My testimony at the 2020 NYS Senate Manhattan State Budget Forum

Here’s the 2-minute oral testimony I gave at the 2020 NYS Senate Manhattan State Budget Forum to Senators Robert Jackson, Liz Krueger, Brian Benjamin, Brad Hoylman, Brian Kavanagh, and Jose Serrano regarding the various bills they are currently supporting that would reclassify many or all current independent contractors as employers or employees. (All were present except for Senator Jackson, who left before I spoke.)

I run two freelance businesses that have taken me 30 years to build successfully — one as a bandleader, another as a graphic designer.

As a bandleader, I’m hired by ever-changing clients in many different contexts. It would not be practical for any of them to hire me full-time. And my sidemen are many and ever-changing. I cannot hire any of them full-time. As a freelance graphic designer, my clients are many and ever-changing. Not one of them would hire me full-time to design, say, a website or a PowerPoint presentation.

I’m 60-years old, and so will never be hired full-time by a company. If forced to give up my freelance businesses, I will have no alternative but to face permanent unemployment, or to leave the state. For independent contractors older than me, the consequences will be more dire.

But isn’t this law needed to protect ride-share drivers whose employers exploit them by depriving them of benefits? 

First, Uber is not an employer. Uber is a broker that connects freelancers to their clients.

And when Uber drivers were asked “what’s the thing you most care about,” 53% said salary, 37% flexibility, and nearly none said benefits.

In other words, like other freelancers, the protection these freelancers desire is protection from the law itself, not from the companies that connect them with their customers.

The exploitation narrative comes not from freelancers, but from unions, who created it to gain public support for the passage of these laws in order to grow their membership. 

In California, New York, and across the country, facing the loss of their livelihoods, many Democrat freelancers have begun vowing to vote Republican. Thus, wherever and whenever this law is passed, any gains a politician might receive from increased union dollars will be offset by the loss of their former constituents.

Please consider the consequences of what you’re doing, and reverse your course. It’s not too late now, for New York’s freelancers, or for yourselves. Very soon, it will be.

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