The number of freelancers is growing. But are freelance unions growing? If not, why not? And what would happen if freelance unions worked together?
Freelance writer Toni Main (not their real name) landed a new $6,000 gig. There was no formal contract–just a series of emails and mutual trust about what was expected, what they would deliver and how much they would make. Several months later, Main remained unpaid. As a last resort, they turned to the Canadian Freelance Union for help.
“And that’s why we’re here, says” Nora Loreto, new President of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), a local of Unifor. “It’s also what I like most about what we do. When someone has a grievance, been harassed, or strung along by a contractor, we get involved. We use a variety of tactics to get justice for our members. And we have not failed yet.”
CFU, like other unions in the media and communication space also provide members with health care insurance options, training opportunities, contract negotiation support and press cards.
Yet, despite the benefits of joining a union and increased number of freelancers due to ongoing tsunami waves of layoffs in the media sector, including Postmedia’s recent move to cut 11 per cent of its editorial staff, CFU freelance union membership numbers (200) seem surprisingly low.