A new tenant, the Freelancers Union, joins the slew of other businesses in Sunset Park’s Industry City, offering a new service to freelancers on the sprawling business campus.
“Given Industry City’s track record of welcoming creative workforces, the program made sense,” said Freelancers Union president and former Bushwick board member Rafael Espinal. in a press release. “We are beyond excited to join the Industry City community and help support the surrounding communities.”
The Freelancers’ Union, founded in 1996, provides benefits, resources and training to its 500,000 self-employed workers, who made up 34% of the city’s workforce in 2019, and more than 60% of workers in city media and entertainment.
“Freelancers are some of our most essential, creative and dedicated workers, yet too often they have fallen through the cracks when it comes to essential services,” said Mayor Eric Adams, in a press release. “As borough president and now as mayor, I’ve supported the Freelancers Hub, and I’m proud to see our freelancers coming to Industry City. My administration will continue to find ways to support this vital community. »
The union’s new 4,413-square-foot headquarters will include a freelance center that will be open to union members free of charge for coworking, networking, workshops, and legal and tax assistance, with even more planned for the future. The hub is supported by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
“Freelancers are an integral and vibrant part of NYC’s workforce and we are thrilled the Freelancer Hub is opening in Industry City,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. . “We look forward to working with the Hub to ensure all freelancers know about the protections for getting paid and more under the city’s Freedom to Operate Act and to connect them with browsing the courts and financial empowerment resources.”
Then-mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Freelance Is Not Free Act in 2016, guaranteeing certain protections to self-employed workers, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by their employers. The law specifically established the right of self-employed workers to written contact, timely payment, and protection from retaliation. Last year, the city sued a French magazine for breaking the law by not paying freelance writers, photographers and more.
In February, Brooklyn State Senator Andrew Gournades introduced a bill that would establish a statewide Companion Law.
“Through our partnership with Commissioner Anne del Castillo and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, we will be able to provide free coworking programs, educational programs and direct resources to creative freelancers in New York through our Freelancers Hub,” Espinal said.
The arrival of the Union of Freelancers in Industry City is the most recent addition to the number of media and production companies that call the campus home.
“The Freelancers Union will be an invaluable partner to our growing Media + Production community at IC,” said Jeff Fein, senior vice president of leasing at Industry City. “The independent workforce now has a distinct home in Industry City where education, skill sharing and networking are key to the experience.”