When an active shooter opened fire in YouTube's offices last April, for example, the company sent real-time security updates to full-time employees only, leaving contract workers "defenseless in the line of fire..."
Google Gets a Wake-Up Call From Contractors. Is Your Company Next?
https://www.inc.com/guadalupe-gonzalez/ ... ichai.html
Today I received an email from one of the production companies which hires me to work the odd gigs I sometimes mention here.
The email contained a contract-like document, they want me to sign. It's some form of contract, I suppose. But it's almost the opposite of an 'employment contract'. They want me to sign that I'm Not an employee. Not entitled to any benefits or worker's comp or unemployment insurance. Not covered by any insurance or liability. I'm responsible for all permits necessary to do my job... city parking permits? building permits? But it also has a non-compete clause-- saying I'm not allowed to work for other companies in the same industry. Funny that I allegedly don't work for them/ but they want to prevent me from working from someone-else? It says I'm responsible to pay for all supplies to do my job. Rolls of gaffer tape? I also can't hire any people or vendors I work-with at their company-- to work anywhere else. My work schedule is highly dependent on people I meet on the job referring me to other producers & vice-versa. Among many-other screwy & vague conditions.
I haven't worked before-- with the specific person who sent the email. I can't tell if 1. she just doesn't know how her company usually conducts business/ or if 2. this is a new companywide standard. So my plan is to take a pass on the two days of work she offered... and see-if a different contact at the same company-- demands the same contract, for the one-day I'm booked, the following week.
I think this anti-contract may be a reaction to the 'Freelancing Isn't Free Act", which became law in NY in 2017. The law seeks to reform employment practices for people who are designated as contractors rather than employees... by increasing government regulation of those business deals. I think this law will work as-well or as-poorly as govt regulation always-does: it creates bureaucracies & taxpayer costs & loopholes & ways to game the system & unintended consequences. It might help some people... but the cost-benefit ratio will be ignored/ only the fuzzy-feelgood effect of the law will be used to measure effectiveness.
If I refuse to sign the anti-contract-- I risk losing the employer who provides the biggest slice of my annual income. If I sign the anti-contract-- I'm explicitly signing-away a lot of protections & rights, which implicitly existed under no-written-contract. Even if the anti-contract is unenforceable-- I might have to lawyer-up & fight to regain my rights. The Freelancer Isn't Free law was designed to protect me... but so-far/ it only forces a conflict between me & my existing employer.
This company owes me $1400 in expenses, from a project I worked 4 months ago. One trump card I hold-- when these employers don't pay my invoices within 30 days-- is that it's in their interest to pay-up & avoid me using the standard govt procedures to force payment. If I complain about the unpaid $ to the state-- the state's Eye Of Sauron will gaze upon how they conduct business. The IRS or NYC or NY State... is likely to tell them I'm not an independent contractor at-all... and they need to pay back-taxes & social security withholdings & unemployment withholdings... for me & everyone-else with my job title. Maybe-even pay triple, as punishment. By forcing a confrontation-- the Freelancing Isn't Free law 'shoots the hostage'/ so I can't threaten the employer with whistleblowing, when they don't pay me.
Ultimately, I wonder if today's contract email is the beginning-of-the-end... of the way I've earned money, the last few years. Three years ago, I was employed by a company which the govt had already busted--before I ever worked there-- so that company had to treat me as an actual employee. That company stopped hiring me-- due to their mishandling of federal citizenship/legal-to-work paperwork (They tried to demand I-- a citizen-- follow the rules for employing foreign non-citizens with work permits. That's against federal law.) I could have blown the whistle on them... but that would have made me radioactive to all the other employers in the same industry. So I didn't snitch & just toughed-it-out. I collected Unemployment. The Unemployment office demanded I apply for jobs & accept job offers. I did so. But those most of those 'job' offers were from places which avoided acknowledging that I was an employee. They treated me as an independent contractor. Again-- my choice was whether to go-along with that absurdity... and earn money. Or take a stand & be righteously unemployed. So taxes were not withheld & I passively 'became' a business-entrepreneur... one who doesn't pay his taxes.
My predicament is so-widespread... I always wonder whether the govt turns a blind eye to the thousands & million of us stuck in a grey-area. Or whether the IRS will eventually come-calling, triggering an investigation of all my past employers. I could pre-emptively snitch on all those employers... the safest way to clear my own name with the govt. But that would be a scorched-earth policy for me every working in this industry.
I suspect the do-gooder, progressive new legislation-- will accelerate the upsetting of the applecart, statewide or nationwide. Which could fuck-up the whole American economy.