A new tenant, the Freelancers Union, is joining the slew of other businesses at Sunset Park’s Industry City — offering a new service for freelancers at the sprawling commercial campus.
“Given Industry City’s track record in welcoming the creative workforce, it made the right sense for the program,” said Freelancer’s Union president and former Bushwick councilmember Rafael Espinal, in a release. “We are beyond excited to be joining the Industry City community and contributing in supporting the surrounding communities.”
The Freelancers Union, founded in 1996, offers benefits, resources and education to its membership of 500,000 independent workers, who made up 34 percent of the city’s workforce in 2019, and more than 60 percent of the city’s media and entertainment workers.
“Freelancers are some of our most essential, creative, and dedicated workers, but too often, they have fallen through the cracks when it comes to critical services,” said Mayor Eric Adams, in a release. “As borough president and now as mayor, I have supported the Freelancers Hub, and I am proud to see our freelancers make Industry City their home. My administration will continue to find ways to support this vital community.”
The union’s new 4,413 square-foot headquarters will include a Freelancer’s Hub which will be open free to union members for coworking, networking, workshops and legal and tax assistance, with even more planned for the future. The hub is supported by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
“Freelancers are an integral and vibrant part of NYC’s workforce and we are thrilled that the Freelancers Hub will be opening in Industry City,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “We look forward to working with the Hub to make sure all freelancers know about protections to get paid and more under the city’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act and to connect them with court navigation and financial empowerment resources.”
Then-mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Freelance isn’t free act into law in 2016, guaranteeing certain protections for freelance workers, who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation from their employers. The act specifically established freelance workers’ right to a written contact, timely payment, and protection from retaliation. Last year, the city sued a French magazine for violating the act by not paying freelance writers, photographers, and more.
In February, Brooklyn state Senator Andrew Gournades introduced a bill that would establish a statewide companion to the act.
“Thanks to our partnership with Commissioner Anne del Castillo, and the Mayor’s office of Media and Entertainment we will be able to provide free coworking, educational programs and direct resources to New York City’s creative freelancers through our Freelancers Hub,” Espinal said.
The Freelancers Union’s arrival at Industry City is the newest addition to the number of media and production businesses that call the campus home.
“The Freelancers Union will be an invaluable partner to our rapidly growing Media + Production community at IC,” said Jeff Fein, senior vice president of leasing at Industry City. “The freelance workforce now has a distinct home at Industry City where education, skill-sharing, and networking are key to the experience.”