Are you one of the 57 million freelancing Americans? You may feel like you’re on your own, but Rafael Espinal knows you’re part of a movement. He’s the Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, an association of a half-million freelancers and creatives who have banded together for political clout, insurance, and sharing knowledge. We talk to him about his path to the Union, and why freelancers have more power than they think.
Rafael Espinal knows freelancing. His parents both moonlighted—as a photographer and a baker—and as part of the New York City Council, he helped pass the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” which allows NYC-based freelancers to tap into city support in resolving delinquent client payments. He’s also the youngest person to be elected to the New York State Assembly, and a former teacher. Now, as Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, he spends his days helping freelancers get organized, big picture-style.
“I knew that at some point in my life, I wanted to be part of an organization that advocated for creatives and freelance workers,” says Rafael, and the Freelancers Union does exactly that: they got started by offering insurance to workers outside traditional employment set-ups. They’ve since grown to include a networking hub, a popular blog, a directory of Black Freelancers, and service discounts for members. This week, we talk to Rafael about why COVID-19 hits them especially hard, why freelancing is an unexpected youth movement, and why freelancers definitely have power in numbers.
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