Freelancers, in digital media, have a crucial purpose—they expand the limits of a publication’s masthead, allowing more voices to be heard and more stories to be told. With every new editor and new publication, their work becomes accessible to a wider audience; with every new byline, their existing readership has the chance to follow them to a site they might not have otherwise visited.
The movement to unionize digital media publications is committed to raising standards for every kind of worker, and the conditions of freelance labor is a top priority for the WGAE. Solidarity between employees and contractors—whether the work is classified freelance, permalance, or temporary—is an essential element to our organization.
Freelancers can’t be included in bargaining units, but there are many ways for us to fight together for better working conditions and equitable treatment. Here are some places to get started!
The National Writers Union processes freelancer grievances (including non-payment) and may use that information to pursue legal action. If you or someone you know hasn’t gotten paid – or experienced another workplace issue as a freelancer – file a grievance with NWU! There may be other people not getting paid by the same publication and NWU can connect you all to take collective action (ie: recent Ebony settlement).
If you live in NYC, acquaint yourself with the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act, including 30-day payment terms and the right to a written contract (which includes the provision that if you don’t get a written contract for work worth over $800 you are owed $250).
You’ve probably heard confusing or inaccurate information about your rights under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Do your own research and file a complaint if necessary.
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts provides free and low-cost legal services to artists working across disciplines.
In addition, media liability insurance can cover fees and damages related to legal action. Read more about media risk and liability insurance on the Author’s Guild website: Media Liability Insurance.
Every other Tuesday, from 3:30pm – 5:30pm, freelancers can sign up for open and confidential conversations with fellow freelancers, WGAE members, and WGAE organizers. Have a question about a late payment? Experiencing an issue with an editor? Need help negotiating a rate? Bring any and all questions to our rotating crew of writers, editors, and organizers. Note: office hours will start on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. A sign-up form will be posted here in early September.
If there is a strike at a WGAE-organized site, we may call on people across the industry to withhold their labor (ie: no scabbing). We’ll post here (and far and wide) should we establish a digital picket line!