Our CEO Jess Perez stands up for freelancers

Our CEO Jess Perez testifies for the Freelance Isn’t Free Act in New York City.

By: Jess Perez

I felt lucky when Freelancer’s Union reached out to me and asked me if I was interested in testifying at a court hearing about the proposed Freelance Isn’t Free bill. I have spent 15 years in the fashion industry hearing horror story after horror story from all of my freelancing friends about issues surrounding late or lack of payments from clients. I also have plenty of stories of my own.

I have seen how late payments have affected freelancers’ financial stability and with that, their homes, their marriages, their children’s lives, their entire livelihood. It is rare in life that we get the opportunity to help make positive changes in the world and I was more than eager to be able to not only stand up for myself, but also for all of the people who have been wronged by a client and have been made to feel powerless as a result.

It is impossible to deny that the power balance between clients and freelancers is 100% tipped in the direction of the client. As freelancers we are labeled as ‘difficult’ when we ask for simple things like contracts and for things we deserve, like money for our completed work. The underlying and unspoken threat that clients use against us is, “If you do X, you will be replaced”. It is an effective threat because most freelancers simply can’t afford to miss out on a job.

It’s obvious that legislation is way past due to even out the playing field and make freelancing a fair game. Freelancers are hustlers by nature; freelancers are hard workers. It is about time that we had the necessary protections in place to allow us to be able to freelance without having the stress of payment attached to our work. It is time.

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