The Benefits of the Freelancers Union
There’s a union for every profession, and freelancers are no exception. If the thought of joining a union conjures up images of strikes, scabs and outrageous membership dues, think again! The Freelancers Union is an awesome nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting freelancers from all disciplines—and membership is 100 percent free.
Though the group is geographically based in New York, its membership is open to anyone who freelances professionally. There are currently 160,000 members in the group, and members live all across the United States.
Freelancers Union Benefits
One of the key reasons to join the Freelancers Union is for its discounted rates on health insurance (including dental, disability and life insurance options), which can often be prohibitively expensive for freelancers who are flying solo. Member-driven co-op health insurance is available to those living in New York, New Jersey and Oregon, while United Health One plans are available for members living in other states. As a Texas resident, I can sign up for healthcare coverage for as little as $75 a month.
Another great perk to joining the Freelancers Union is the chance to start a 401(k) retirement plan with no minimum investments required. It’s free to sign up, and you can have any amount automatically deducted from your bank account on a monthly basis. Better still, you can easily stop the deductions whenever you’re going through a dry spell and resume your savings when your budget is back on track.
Need another reason to join? Members get discounts on everything from travel and transportation (Hertz, Hyatt, Zipcar), to office supplies (Staples), to invoicing software (FreshBooks), to health and beauty products (Drugstore.com), to cell phone providers (T-Mobile), to co-working spaces (various), to legal information and coverage (The Legal Edge)—and more.
Tools to Get the Job Done
In addition to all its fabulous perks, the Freelancer’s Union website offers some amazing tools to help keep freelancers on track. The Contract Creator helps ensure you get paid for all your hard work, building personalized contracts for each new job, while the Client Scorecard helps you steer clear of deadbeat clients, thanks to inside information submitted by fellow freelancers.
Need a new job? No worries! The Freelancers Union site offers a job board for those seeking new clients, and the union itself is often hiring.
Wondering how to stay focused as a new freelancer? Check out the union’s blog, “The Freelance Life,” for success stories, tips and tricks from your fellow workers. Or if you’ve been there and done that, feel free to share a success story of your own!
Meetings and Campaigns
Even if you can’t make it to the group’s meetings and events (usually held in NYC), there are also occasional webinars geared toward freelancers. They’ll be hosting a welcome webinar for new members on May 9, so mark your calendar!
The union also sticks up for freelancers through its campaigns, like the Freelancer Payment Protection Act, which is currently being considered in New York state. If passed, this bill could help freelancers in New York go after deadbeat clients for unpaid wages—something that is currently impossible, thanks to a lack of legal protection and the high cost of accompanying fees. Past campaigns include targeting affordable health insurance, fair taxation, unemployment protection and electing political allies.
What’s Stopping You?
There are so many great reasons to join the Freelancers Union, so what’s stopping you? All you need to join is your email address. Membership is free and instantaneous, so sign up today!