So says Sara Horowitz, author of The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need To Know To Have The Career Of Your Dreams on Your Terms, in this recent talk to The Economist’s Ideas Economy conference in New York City (click here to watch the video).
Sara is the founder of the Freelancers Union in the United States, a group of “practical revolutionaries” which provides independent workers from coders, to lawyers, nannies and graphic designers, with health insurance, superannuation, and help and information on how to deal with deadbeat clients (vital to any freelancer!).
In her talk, Sara speaks about the shift away from traditional salaried work to freelancing, which she argues is driven by a desire “meaningful independence”: the ability to pursue work that matters on your own schedule… and to take the afternoon off for a bike ride if you choose. Today, 42 million freelancers and independent contractors make up one third of the US workforce (there are 23 million in Europe), and Sara predicts that when her daughter finishes college in 10 years’ time, freelancing will be the norm.
But as we discussed on this blog last week, that meaning and independence can come with trade-offs. It can mean working without the safety net of sick pay or a retirement fund, slow or unreliable payers, and lousy pay rates.
Out of these contradictions, a Freelancers Rights movement has started to grow, spearheaded by organisations such as the Freelancers Union and Germany’s Selbständig Vereint, which aim to give independent workers an independent voice.
But how do we successfully merge the best parts of the 20th century trade union revolution with a 21st century revolution which has been rooted in independence and free enterprise, as much as it has in a desire for community and meaningful work?
Over to you. Are you a freelancer or independent contractor? How could a Freelancers Rights movement help you?