Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to fight for freelancers every day, saying he loves us and the government has an obligation to us.
He made those statements while addressing members of the Freelancers Union this month.
But was it just lip service or do freelancers really have an ally in one of the most powerful positions in Congress?
That’s an important question because President Biden plans to push an initiative called the PRO Act, which could have major implications for freelancers. And by major, I’m talking about it could be an AB5-style disaster, or worse.
Ultimately, the vigor of Schumer’s fight for freelancers is likely to be driven by numerous factors, which we’ll discuss later.
For now, let’s focus on a potentially valuable relationship with Schumer and the senate majority leader’s record.
Chuck Schumer and Rafael Espinal
One thing in our favor is Rafael Espinal, president of the Freelancers Union, and Schumer carry it like they’re cool. Apparently, they go back to the days when Espinal was on the New York City Council.
With Espinal at the helm of the Freelancers Union, Schumer has shown a willingness to consult with him on issues affecting freelancers and to address the organization’s members.
So Espinal is an asset because he gives freelancers a channel to Schumer’s ear and because after he hips Schumer, the senate majority leader funnels that insider insight to Congress in a way that’s been missing.
A lot of congress members have no clue how freelancing works or what our needs and concerns are, which has been one of our long-running, major problems.
Schumer’s Fight for Freelancers in CARES Act
The Schumer-Espinal relationship has already started to pay off.
Since the pandemic, the federal government has been considering freelancers in a way that’s virtually unheard of.
For example, the CARES Act provided Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, which gave freelancers, independent contractors, and other self-employed people $600 a week in unemployment benefits.
And if you don’t know, unemployment benefits for freelancers are BIG because that’s generally not an option.
The CARES Act also gave freelancers access to PPP loans, aka the Payroll Protection Program, which you could use to pay yourself and/or cover certain expenses. And once you used the money you could ask for 100% forgiveness.
Schumer takes credit for getting those things done, but he also said without Espinal freelancers probably wouldn’t have been included at all.
According to Schumer, no one else on Capitol Hill was considering what freelancers needed. So, when they started working on the CARES Act, he called Espinal to get insight on how to help freelancers.
I had to push hard and explain a lot to a lot of people, said Schumer, but thank God freelancers got included. And I’ll fight for you all the way, he added.
The next phases of benefits
Hopefully, Schumer stands behind his vow to fight for freelancers.
Because as Espinal said during the live stream, PUA and PPP were very important lifelines but the pandemic has been around for nearly a year and people are still hurting.
“We count on your leadership for keeping freelancers in mind and making sure they have the relief they need,” Espinal added.
And that brings us to what’s been put on the table for freelancers since the CARES Act, what Schumer is pushing for in the future, and what his stance is on protecting freelancers in the PRO Act.
Take the Chuck Schumer poll here.