On Wednesday, April 15, Freelancers Union President Rafael Espinal held his first State of the Freelancers Union since he took office on March 2, 2020.
Rafael presented his vision for a 50-state freelancers movement post-COVID-19, which includes an expanded network of Freelancers Hubs modeled after our coworking and career development space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, and a push to other cities and states to adopt legislation like New York’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which provides landmark protections for freelancers against client nonpayment and retaliation.
But first, we need to get through the current crisis together. While a number of programs have been established or extended to include freelancers, their implementation is a mess. Unemployment agencies across the country are struggling to set up applications for nontraditional employees, and were not formally given funds to provide the additional $600/weekly Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments until this past week. It is provided in the CARES Act that both regular UI and PUA benefits are retroactive, so if you are not yet able to apply in your state, your first payments will cover that waiting period since you lost work.