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Last night, I spent a few hours over at  the Freelancers Union. I’ve been a member for what seems like forever but I recently started paying more attention to the events newsletters I get now that I’m back in NYC. Last night was one of the monthly member meetings and we worked on helping each other develop some branding phrases for our businesses. I felt like I had that covered when I walked in but when I walked out I had brainstormed some really great ideas for my website copy and the way I market myself to clients.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Freelancers Union, it’s a NYC based organization that supports freelancers all over the country. One of the biggest benefits is the formation of the only nonprofit insurance company in the country so that freelancers can access group health care as well as long term disability insurance and retirement savings plans. It also raises money, endorses candidates, and lobbies to change laws that affect us, such as the double tax penalties freelancers face here in New York. Right now the union is working on the Freelancer Payment Protection Act, which would give us the ability to file wage disputes with the New York Department of Labor for unpaid debts instead of having to go to small claims court, among other things. Ultimately, it would make it cheaper and easier for us to chase our money from nonpaying clients.

Finally, it offers resources and information to help you run your business, including webinars from business experts and the free contract tool on the website that helps you create your own project contracts. They also have a directory of clients so you can see what others said about working with them and add your own reviews, too. Members receive affiliate discounts with lots of vendors, including T-Mobile and GEICO.

Why You Should Join (Even If You Don’t Live in New York)

If you live in New York, it’s a no brainer that you should join the Freelancers Union. Something like 120,000 of the Freelancers Union’s 160,000 members live in New York state. So it focuses much of its physical efforts here. The insurance options are all available to New York residents. You also have access to the events, which include regular meetings, networking events, and activist events. All you have to do is just sign up.

Although most of its constituents are in New York state, it also has strong numbers in some other states, like California and Texas. The web tools, the webinars, and the other forms of support are available nationwide. The organization is working to expand its physical presence in other states, including benefits and political lobbying. The biggest reason you should join the Freelancers Union if you don’t live in New York is that it helps to say “Hey there are people here who are interested.” The more members in your area, the more likely your state will be on the short list for physical expansion.

So Go Join

The Freelancers Union is a small but growing organization that does some great work. They don’t charge for membership and they offer a number of growing resources to any independent worker, solopreneur, or freelancer that signs up. I don’t care what state you live in, joining the union couldn’t possibly hurt you, but each new signup helps strengthen the union numbers and put it on the fast track for expansion.

Are you a member of the Freelancers Union? If you aren’t, go do it. And if you think you have a compelling reason why not, leave it the comments and I’ll do my best to persuade you otherwise.

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Princess Jones

Princess Jones is the mad scientist behind Diary of a Mad Freelancer. For more talk about freelancing, writing, and selling yourself for a living, follow her on Twitter.

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