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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Freelancer's Union?

    I didn't know if this has been addressed yet on the forums, but I thought everyone would like to know about this...

    I thought it was interesting, and it might help us freelancers greatly.
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Thanked 106 Times in 71 Posts
    Perhaps because I live in a right to work state where trade/labor unions are pretty much non existant, but I find the whole concept of unionizing freelancers/independent contractors really bizarre. Or, perhaps I just really don't understand unions.

    Group rate insurance would be pretty sweet, though, assuming the coverage was awesome and the price was right. Catastrophic insurance seems to be my best option at the moment, but that might quickly change if I had more monthly expenses, like an expensive prescription or needed regular tests.

    I thought businesses subsidized the cost of health care plans, thus making them cheaper for the individual employee? How is this union able to do that? I doubt there's just a discount for buying a bunch of plans together, or else everyone with individual plans would be forming groups right and left to take advantage of said discount.
    Last edited by erinc; May 12th, 2012 at 02:58 AM.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    North Carolina
    Thanked 379 Times in 256 Posts
    I know a artist has to pay his dues, but personally that's not the kind I'm looking for.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Cambridge UK
    Thanked 4,524 Times in 2,458 Posts

    The granddaddy of the freelance union movement for journalists and other creative types is the Freelancers Union in New York. Founded as a non-profit organization in 1995, a spokeswoman for the union says its membership has doubled to 132,000 in the last two years.


    Why We Need a Simple Antitrust Exemption

    by Cynthia Turner and Brad Holland

    September 17, 2002

    There's a unique situation affecting freelance artists and photographers. It exists because the unintended consequences of current antitrust law undermine the stated intent of the 1976 Copyright Act. Since this situation affects a finite number of small businesses, we believe it could be remedied by a specific and limited antitrust exemption similar to the Playwrights' Bill recently introduced in the Senate.

    We believe this antitrust exemption would not interfere with fair competition among artists and photographers. It would create no undue loss of efficiency for corporate publishers. But we fear that failure to correct the situation will result in the loss of a large number of small independent contractors to the twin forces of big business and big labor.

    Over the last decade freelance artists and photographers have seen significant misappropriation of our copyrights and unauthorized third-party licensing of our work. This has come not from viewers of our pictures, but from our own publishers. Clients are unilaterally exploiting our secondary rights without permission or compensation. And many demand that we surrender all rights, even to past and future work in return for new commissions.

    This has come about because of the acute imbalance in bargaining power between large corporate publishers and their freelance contributors. If not addressed, we fear it may undermine the incentive for artists to create which Congress has traditionally recognized and fostered.

    For decades, freelancers have supported themselves solely by licensing the rights to their original work. But now we find our markets contracting and our fees, which have been stagnant for decades, declining.

    For many of us, the market power granted to us by copyright law has been nullified by the superior market power of media conglomerates. Because corporations are protected as "consumers" in negotiating with freelancers, they can - and many do - demand our copyrights as a condition of accepting assignments. This raises an antitrust paradox: It cannot have been the intent of the Sherman Act to protect powerful corporations from isolated individuals. Yet, this is what is happening. When the purpose of antitrust law is inverted to deprive freelance artists of the incentives awarded them under copyright law, we must conclude that one important law is being misused to circumvent another, equally important law.

    If current trends continue freelance artists and photographers will find themselves in the same position as composers 100 years ago, when Stephen Foster could be forced to sign away his life's work to pay the bills, while middlemen made fortunes licensing the songs he had written.

    Our problems are further complicated by the entry of organized labor into our field. The Auto Workers Union is seeking to affiliate freelancers through a campaign to "Unite All Workers." It was they who wrote the bill introduced last April by Representative Conyers of the Detroit area. The Freelance Writers and Artists Protection Act (HR4643) is now being promoted without debate to artists and authors. Yet many who support it in principle have no awareness of union trade-offs.

    Many of us are opposed to various provisions of this bill. We're concerned that creeping "unionization" in our field will lead to the permanent loss of our copyrights, bargained away to publishers in return for union power. Caught between the superior bargaining position of our clients and the interests of organized labor, we're unsure how to protect ourselves as small businesses.

    Many of us began our careers as employees at studios or design firms. But we chose to accept the uncertainties and obligations of freelance life because we considered the incentives of creating on our own worth the hard work and risks of running a small business.

    But if we lose those incentives, we'll have lost an entire segment of the country's creative community. And this will have happened, not because some image providers have created a more efficient means of producing art, but because in a small but culturally significant segment of the U. S. economy, the intent of antitrust protection has been abused.

    For decades, our field has been one of classical competition where to survive, we each had to create a niche for ourselves by doing competitive work at competitive prices. We seek nothing more than the opportunity to continue doing so.

    Cynthia Turner and Brad Holland
    September 17, 2002
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  7. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Thanked 4,921 Times in 2,548 Posts
    The problem with unionizing, or even forming a "collective" is there is no licensing and no way to enforce any kind of regulations in art or illustration. This makes it a non-starter because the client base for the service is free to use any provider. Doctors can be relatively independent (freelance), attorneys, architects, ie; "other professions" because there are rigorous standards, review and licensing that accompany the right to practice said profession. This means the "clients" basically have no choice but to use licensed professionals (which is a good thing) and work within the established guidelines of that go outside of that is illegal or at least is a known risk.

    It boils down to what benefit of unionizing exists for the client base? In the case of doctors, architects, etc. it is the arts though? No real benefit.
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