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Freelancers-Union-Membership Matters - TOP TEN REASONS!

What Is A Freelancers Union?

Freelancers-union-membership is an often unrecognized part of successful freelancing, yet has great influence on the careers and safety of those who choose to become involved, as well as improving the situation for other freelancers in the present and future. It is important to understand that freelancers are self-employed contractors and therefore a Freelancer's "Union" is more about helping the independent members become successful rather than negotiating with employers. It is also a good means of better managing the self-employment business risks, internet operational risks and health related risks.

US Based Freelancers Union

Freelancers-Union-Membership is the driving force behind one of the largest freelancer unions in the world. The US based Freelancers Union, was established by Sara Horowitz in 1995 to protect the interests of independent workers. Since then her union has been battling for greater security and recognition for freelancers, who now make up a third of the American working population.  For freelancers' families freelancers union benefits and freelancers union insurance can be critical parts of a family's financial plan and security.

But what does this mean at the ground level for individual freelancers? How would membership improve your business and your working life? Let's consider some of the reasons. 

We will use the Freelancers Union as an example. As at 2012, it had 200,000 members across America. As with any union, the Freelancers Union advocates for the working rights of its members. The union's research found that in 2010, 44 percent of independent workers had problems getting paid, which amounted to billions of dollars owed. Clearly, freelancers-union-membership is a critical issue for freelancers.

Ten Reasons To Be A Member Of The Freelancers Union

  1. The first big reason for joining a union is to have someone at your back when you approach clients who refuse to pay. Alone, you are not very intimidating, but with an organisation behind you that is dedicated to the rights of its members, your chances are far greater. Also, by supporting union growth across self employment industries, freelance work will be better recognised and respected as a legitimate career and a viable source of paid work. This also means setting industry standard rates that are fair to the workers. 
  2. Secondly, unions provide advocacy that is focused on improving the situation of freelancers in all areas of their working lives, moving beyond fair payment and into issues like unemployment benefits, taxes, health insurance and superannuation. Freelancers are regularly overlooked in statistics that influence the decisions made about labour laws, even though they make up such a large part of  industry. By standing together, freelancers can make sure they are counted, and their needs heard and addressed. 
  3. The third major reason is the security that unions can offer. Freelancers don't enjoy all the benefits that typical employees do, such as sick days, parental leave, health insurance and tax benefits. When something goes wrong, your income is greatly at risk. The Freelancers Union launched its own insurance company to provide affordable insurance tailored to freelancers, to offer the security that was lacking, on terms that suited the freelance lifestyle and needs.

  1. As a freelancer, increasing your skills is something you have to do in your own time and at your own expense, however finding courses tailored for freelancers can be difficult. The Freelancers Union offers courses covering issues from accounting to marketing, designed specifically for its members.  Continuing education is another benefit in the mix of freelance union benefits and freelance union insurance.

  2. Reason Five is the chance to network with other freelancers, as freelancing can be a lonely way to work. Talking to others in the industry is a great way to gain support, build connections and create opportunities with others.

  3. If you move around regularly, or if you plan to move, the community of a union offers a ready-made way to connect with the industry in a new place, and an efficient way of building a network, even if you don't know anyone at the start.

  4. Reason Seven is for access to the job boards that are commonplace in working communities. Also, as part of a union, employers know they will be able to find you. 

  5. As important as Reason Seven, Reason Eight is to gain the inside knowledge offered by services like the Freelancers Union's Client Scorecard, where other members rate the clients they have worked for, so you can approach jobs as prepared as possible. It's good to be able to get customers, but it's even better to get great ones. 

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  1. A corporation can make many more connections than an individual, and members of the Freelancers Union have access to member discounts that the union negotiated on their behalf. These discounts cover practicalities like office supplies, billing services and office spaces, and extend to lifestyle elements like gym memberships.  These freelance union benefits can help a freelancer's finances enormously.

  2. And in at number 10 – and by no means the least important – joining a union means setting yourself up for success. Membership to the Freelancers Union is free, and membership to other unions is typically free or inexpensive; considering all the benefits and support a union membership offers, there is simply everything to gain. However, membership of some benefit schemes is not free.  An example of the member benefit schemes that are not free are health insurance, dental, life and disability insurance.

    In some countries the member benefits are broader. For example, in Australia, Freelance Journalists are covered under the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance Union with multimedia, public and products liability insurance. For professional journalists, freelancers-union-membership is a must have for professional risk management. This is irrespective of other freelance union benefits or freelance union insurance.

You can get a copy of Sara Horowitz's The Freelancer's Bible by clicking on the icon below 

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