New York Freelancers Union

Providing advocacy, professional development and affordable health care options, the New York Freelancers Union is an attractive option for workers who choose to work for themselves.

Boasting over 246,000 members, the Union is headquartered in Manhattan with a significant presence in Portland, Oregon. For freelancers working in the greater New York area, this makes the union an accessible base for networking with other self-employed professionals. While most of the Union's activities are centered around New York, membership is open to any freelancer in all fifty states.

Insurance Benefits for Freelancers

One of the most challenging aspects of being a freelancer is the ability to get health insurance. Even with the passing of the Affordable Health Care Act, most freelancers find insurance is still out of their reach. The Union offers a wide variety of insurance options, including dental and medical plans. Members also have the option of selecting both disability and term life insurance. Recognizing that many freelancers are unable to plan for retirement, the Union offers its members an attractive retirement plan with no minimum contributions or hefty monthly fees. Members are able to contribute what they can to their own retirement plan when they can. Unlike most financial institutions, these retirement plans recognize the often sporadic nature of a freelance career.

Unlike a typical labor union, there are no fees or dues required, and the Union states that the only fees are for joining the many insurance plans offered to members. In order to qualify, potential members must prove that they work on a part- time or freelance basis, demonstrating earnings of $10,000 or 20 hours of work for the previous eight weeks. The Union requires that potential members work in one of several eligible industries, including the arts, home health care, advertising and media, technology, non-profits, child-care, or computer based industries including web design, graphic design, and web programming.

Once approved, a new member must pay a $75 annual access fee and $50 application fee for the insurance plan or plans of their choice. This reflects the fact that membership in the Union is most commonly devoted to providing affordable insurance for its members.

Providing Community for Home-Based Workers

While insurance is the backbone of membership in the Union, community provides the day-to-day benefits for its members. Each industry is organized into a "Hive", an online forum where professionals can share ideas and plan for in- person meetups. For freelancers based outside of New York, the forum is a useful place to network with colleagues. Members can also start hives for specific topics, including financial planning and finding clients.

Promoting Advocacy

Billed as "New Mutalism," the Union encourages all of its members to join in a concerted effort to promote freelancers helping their local communities through their professional work. Recognizing that the current economy promotes flexibility and a sense of sharing, freelancers are uniquely poised to become a leader in the so called "sharing economy." The Union promotes the sharing economy as a more viable model for today's freelancer. Rather than seeing freelancers as temporary workers or hired guns, the Union promotes them as the face of the current economy.

With the sharing economy in mind, the Union provides articles that lead new freelancers into embracing the new image of freelancing. Led by director Sara Horowitz, the website's blog features current commentary on how freelancers are rapidly replacing traditional full-time employees.

The New York Freelancer's Union is an affordable advocacy group that provides support and affordable insurance benefits for self-employed professionals in the Greater New York area. Representing a wide variety of freelancers, the group features a forward- thinking mindset that promotes the current and future face of freelancing. With no membership fee, the Union is a great option for freelancers looking to network with like minded-professionals and expand their businesses.