Protecting Workers in the “Gig” Economy

Protecting Workers in the “Gig” Economy

More and more workers here in Brooklyn (and far beyond) are being paid “by the gig” – freelance graphic designers, writers, and film producers, Uber drivers, Handy.com cleaners, day laborers, and many more.

In plenty of cases, freelancing and “gig” work makes sense. It can allow consumers to arrange for on-demand services in ways not possible before, allow workers to set flexible work hours or earn extra money, and generate new economic activity.

But there’s a very real dark side. Freelance workers too often get cheated out of the wages and fees they are owed. Day laborers get misclassified and denied their rights as employees. Uber drivers lack the right to organize and collectively bargain with their corporate employer. Working by-the-gig provides much less job security than a traditional career – and it almost never provides health insurance, paid sick days, paid family leave, workforce development, or retirement security.

We urgently need creative thinking, new models, and some new laws to provide for worker protection and security in the emerging economy.

So I’m proud to partner with the Freelancer’s Union, for their #FreelanceIsntFree Brooklyn Town Hall this Monday evening at Borough Hall (along with Council Members Steven Levin and Laurie Cumbo). We’ll be focusing on the issues of wage theft facing freelancers. We all deserve to get paid for the work we do, but 8 out of 10 freelancers have faced nonpayment or late payment in the past.

#FreelanceIsntFree Brooklyn Townhall
September 21st, 6-8pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street

In the coming months, I’m committed to developing practical policies – including City Council legislation – that protect and support freelancers and other gig economy workers. Together, I’m convinced that we can prevent wage theft, offer a new “shared security system,” give gig-workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, and prevent misclassification of employees … while still allowing innovation and economic growth.

 If you can’t make it to Monday’s event, but want to keep up with my work on this issue, sign up here for updates.

Whether you’re a freelancer, a for-hire vehicle driver, a babysitter, or just someone who’s concerned with ensuring workers remain protected in a rapidly changing economy, I hope you’ll join me for this event and stay tuned to this important conversation.

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