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Graphic Artists Guild

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Disappointment with the Veto of the Freelance Isn’t Free Law

December 26, 2022: On behalf of freelance visual artists, designers, and illustrators, the Graphic Artists Guild is extremely disappointed that New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed Freelance Isn’t Free legislation (S8369B/A2368A). The bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of the New York State legislature in June of this year. Governor Hochul’s veto, executed in the last hours before the holiday recess, is a discouraging conclusion to years of effort by advocates on behalf of freelancers.

The Freelance Isn’t Free bill was introduced by New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Harry Bronson on February 17, 2022. The bill expanded protections provided by the New York City Freelance Isn’t Free legislation, passed in 2017, to workers across the entire state. These protections include consequences for hiring entities who do not pay or pay late their freelance workers, as well as for those who engage in retaliatory harassment of freelancers seeking payment. Since its passage five years ago, Freelance Isn’t Free legislation has recovered over $2 million in wages owed to New York City freelancers.

These protections are sorely needed on a statewide basis, if not nationally. Freelancers are a growing and significant portion of the US labor force. In 2022, 36% of the US workforce (70.4 million individuals) worked as freelancers; 77% of workers in the arts and design are freelancers. While freelancers are a significant and growing portion of the US workforce, non-payment and late payment are a chronic problem. A recent survey by the Independent Economy Council found that 74% of freelancers report late payment, 72% report oustanding invoices that have not been paid by their clients, and 59% are owed $50,000 or more. 

These statistics are echoed in New York State. A survey conducted by a coalition of advocacy organizations (the Authors Guild, Freelancers Union, Graphic Artist Guild, American Society of Media Photographers, National Press Photographers Association, American Photographic Artists, and National Writers Union) found that 62 percent of New York freelance workers lost wages and 91% reported late payment at least once in their careers. 39% of the surveyed freelancers said nonpayment and late payment affected their ability to pay bills or rent.

The Graphic Artists Guild thanks Senator Gounardes and Assemblymember Bronson for having introduced S8369B/A2368A, and for their efforts on behalf on New York’s freelancers. In supporting the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, we joined a coalition of advocacy organizations, including the Freelancers Union, National Writers Union, and Authors Guild. We are committed to working with these partners in seeing that legislation on behalf of freelancers is passed and successfully enacted in the new year.