The Freelancers Union is nonprofit professional organization that provides several services that traditional, industrial-era unions do not. It is “a motley collection of workers in the fast-evolving freelance economy — whether lawyers, software developers, graphic artists, accountants, consultants, nannies, writers, editors, Web site designers or sellers on Etsy.” The New York Times calls it “one of the nation’s fastest-growing labor organizations, with more than 200,000 members.”
The Freelancers Union is free to join. According to its website, it only charges fees to members if they enroll in a group insurance plan offered through the organization. Benefits of membership include discounts on “everything from tax prep to gyms to coworking space,” a profile in the Freelancers Yellow Pages, the ability to “post a project or gig [and to] find and apply for a gig,” disability, dental, and life insurance, events targeted toward freelancers, policy advocacy and newsletters.
The Freelancers Union is reminiscent of a guild, according to Rutgers University professor Janice Fine. She explained that the organization “focused on workers’ individual autonomy, trying to build their own careers, with the backing of a collective organization to assist them.”[*]
[*] Steven Greenhouse, “Tackling Concerns of Independent Workers,” The New York Times, March 23, 2013, http://goo.gl/t08j9C (accessed July 22, 2014). Randy Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the founder of the Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz, “the most ingenious thinker of our time.” Tejal Rao, “A Decade On , Freelancers Union Founder Sara Horowitz Takes Her Fight Mainstream” (The Village Voice, Feb. 2014).