04/01/16 11:04am


Erin Taylor is $1600 in the hole. And her situation isn’t due to anything unsavory, like a gambling debt or an unpaid credit card bill, but rather unpaid invoices. The longtime hairstylist, who recently left her day job at an on-demand beauty service to become a full-time freelancer, is simply waiting, and waiting, on her clients to pay her for work she completed more than 30 days ago.

“I wanted to work on-set, in fashion and in commercials, because it’s more my cup of tea,” says Taylor. “But I haven’t been paid for a couple of jobs going back as far as December. It’s hard to budget your life when you don’t know when the next payment is going to come”

Luckily for Taylor—and possibly millions of New Yorkers—she is a member of the Freelancers Union, a 21-year-old organization based in Brooklyn and committed to advancing the rights of freelancers. Currently, the union represents more than 300,000 freelancers throughout the United States, offering many of them health and dental insurance, retirement accounts, networking opportunities, educational workshops, and other resources and benefits.

But in 2016, the Freelancers Union could turn one of its long-standing causes into law. After enlisting New York City Councilmember Brad Lander as a sponsor in December, the Union is pushing the City Council to pass the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act, a citywide ordinance that would finally give recourse to millions of independent workers throughout the U.S. when their NYC-based employers delay or fail to make a payment. (more…)

03/11/14 9:00am

As the open enrollment deadline for Obamacare approaches, approximately 16% of Brooklynites are still uninsured. Photo: BarackObama.com

As the open enrollment deadline for Obamacare approaches, approximately 16% of Brooklynites are still uninsured. Photo: BarackObama.com

Despite early promises from President Obama that buying affordable insurance would soon be as simple as shopping on Amazon, the process of selecting a health-care provider is more than just a matter of picking and clicking. Plans, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses under Obamacare vary greatly from state-to-state and person-to-person, depending on factors like household size, annual income and employment. The confusion could help explain why approximately 420,000 people–about 16% of the population–are currently still uninsured in Brooklyn.

The time has come, however, to pick a provider if you haven’t already because everyone is now legally required to have health care of some kind under the Affordable Care Act–be it Medicaid, an employer health plan or insurance you’ve purchased on your own through a marketplace exchange or private company. Those without coverage, with few exceptions, will face a federal penalty equivalent to either 1% of their annual income or $95, whichever is more, when filing this year’s income tax return.

So if you still need insurance, it’s not too late to avoid an IRS fine and find a provider for 2014. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of basic info on two local coverage options still accepting applicants before this year’s open enrollment ends on March 31, as well as a couple of alternatives to insurance for health-care holdouts.  (more…)

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