Ha'aretz is reporting that freelancers are in talks with Israel's largest workers' organization, the Histadrut, to organize a freelancers' union.
3 Reasons They Do
The mostly-Anglo group that approached the Histadrut evidently thinks they need a union. Here are some of the reasons why:
- To more easily negotiate benefits for freelancers that work long periods with the same company (de facto employees)
- To have Hebrew representation for immigrant freelancers and others that do not have strong Hebrew skills
- To give freelancers the confidence to stand up and fight back if they're unfairly exploited
There's also an interesting discussion in Hebrew about why freelance graphic designers should unionize, such as to create standard prices. Most of the points apply to any kind of freelancer.
2 Reasons They Don't
Over on the aliya mailing list Tachlis, some interesting counterpoints were made:
- “When the tax laws changed in the U.S. in the 1990's, the effect upon freelance employees was disastrous. Faced with the requirements to provide benefits to long-term freelance employees, most employers stopped using them.”
- “A freelancer is competing with his skills against the others to get the better contracts. Why would a good freelancer want to level the playing field?”
As someone who has seen both sides of a freelancing contract, I'm not impressed with this idea either.
All the pro-union points could be addressed by creating an industry association instead of the rigidity of a union structure.
If standardized pricing is so important, concerned freelancers' should band together into a collective or form their own company. I think it's better to keep the market open by letting freelancers continue to charge whatever they like.
A freelancer concerned about long-term benefits while at one company should try to get hired on staff. Otherwise, it just sounds as if they're trying to have their cake and eat it too by getting all the advantages of an employee while still having the liberty of being independent.
A freelancer's biggest concern is getting loyal clients. The only way being unionized will help in that regard is if a company has an arrangement with the union to only use its member freelancers. A union could actually make prospecting more difficult by pitting union freelancers against non-union freelancers.
What do you think? Should a freelancers' union be encouraged or discouraged? If you're a freelancer, would you join up?