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Graphic Artists Guild

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The Graphic Artists Guild Supports the Freelance Isn’t Free Act

The Graphic Artists Guild applauds the introduction of the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, S8369/A9368, by New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Harry Bronson on February 17th. The bill will provide vital protections for freelance workers and independent contracts who are dealing with non-payment and late payment of their invoices, as well as retaliatory harassment against those who seek fair remuneration. This landmark legislation was passed in New York City in 2017; we welcome the expansion of these protections across the entire state.

Freelance workers constitute 35% of the US workforce, and fully one-third of New York City workers are freelancers. Over half of the graphic artists the Guild represents are freelancers. Yet despite being a vital part of the US economy, freelancers have little legal recourse when clients refuse to pay their invoices, or offer to pay less than the agreed-upon amount. A 2019 conducted by the Freelancers Union and Upwork yielded grim finding: freelancers lose on average close to $6,000 a year to wage theft, 74% of freelancers reported they experienced late or non-payment, and 59% of freelancers report that they live paycheck to paycheck.

The Freelance Isn’t Free bill would redress these wrongs by making written contracts mandatory, requiring for 30-day payment terms, providing payment agreement protections, deterring retaliatory harassment, and enabling freelancers to collect double damages and attorney’s fees.

At the press event applauding the introduction of the bill yesterday, Guild Advocacy Liaison Rebecca said: “On behalf of graphic artists — illustrators, designers, wed designers, cartoonists, animators, and surface and textile designers — many thanks to Senator Gounardes and assemblyman Branson for the introduction this important bill in the New York State Legislature. From Syracuse University, RIT, and our excellent state universities, to the downstate NYC schools such as Pratt, School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union, Parsons the New school, New York has established itself as a hub for innovation and talent in visual communications. We have one of the highest concentrations globally of professional designers and illustrators, as well as media companies, publishers, and industries which rely on the labor of these creative professionals. And yet our freelancers still encounter delays in payment, non-payment, and retaliation when they seek fair remuneration. How fitting would it be if our state implemented the Freelance Isn’t Free legislation. It’s about time.”