So, the next question came to us from Sunday, a freelancer in New York, and she
reflected a lot of the questions that we got not just from freelancers, but
a lot of folks who were struggling with pay. And her particular question was
about the fact that sometimes freelancers aren't even paid for their
work, and there are no mechanisms available to them right now to actually
insist on being paid aside from small claims court. And so her question is, "What
will you do to help both small business owners and freelancers actually get paid
for their work?" [PRESIDENT OBAMA] This is a great question and I don't have an immediate answer.
When it comes to Federal contracts, one of the things that smart people like
Jason Furman, my current chair of the
Council for Economic Advisers, and Gene Sperling, former head of our National
Economic Council, thought of while we were still trying to find ways to boost
business and aggregate demand, they figured out – you know what, a bunch
of our small businesses who are subcontractors, or down the supply chain
to the Federal government – they're not getting paid long enough – or fast enough –
and it doesn't matter when – well I won't say it doesn't matter – but Boeing may be
able to survive – you know – it taking a little bit longer to get paid but some
of their smaller suppliers cannot. And we actually changed how our payment systems
worked to accelerate it and it really helped a lot of small businesses. I mean
we loosened up a bunch of money into the economy. Those are the kinds of tricks
you work on particularly when the Congress isn't passing the laws that you need for
them to pass to boost the economy. But I haven't actually spent a lot of time
thinking about, "Are there best practices that we could institute?" But what I do
know is the Federal government, state governments, city governments – they're big
employers and they're big consumers. Obviously the Federal government's the
largest consumer in the world, and so setting up best practices for them then
can encourage best practices to be adopted throughout – you know – throughout a
particular industry. But I don't know – Jason, any anything else you want to add
on that? Any other ideas that we've we've had? Because I'm sure this is something
that's come up with SBA and others. Either—
[HOST] I actually—
[PRESIDENT OBAMA] Oh wait, we've got a volunteer, good.
[HOST] Sara Horowitz has been leading the way on these questions.
[SARA HOROWITZ] Well, I like to say, "Help is on the way." So thank you so much, and thank you Mr. President
for this really exceptional time to really be breaking ground and
thinking about the next frontier.
And to the great Michelle Miller and Coworker
for their great work. So in New York City right now we have Freelancers Union. It's
a national organization – 300,000 members of freelancers who have not been
misclassified, who really do the great work of the country and really
contribute in so many ways, and one of their biggest challenges is that they
don't get paid. The average freelancer has been stiffed $6,000 a year.
70% of all freelancers have experienced non-payment at some point in their life,
and that's why we are launching the #FreelanceIsntFree campaign
[PRESIDENT OBAMA] There you go—
[SARA HOROWITZ] Here we go
[PRESIDENT OBAMA] There you go. Right there. Freelancing isn't free.
[SARA HOROWITZ] And right now the New York City Council–
[PRESIDENT OBAMA] I will say though, next time you need a bigger poster.
Because for those of us over 50, it becomes harder to read. Anyway, go ahead, I'm teasing.
[SARA HOROWITZ] And while the press is taking pictures, let me say that's the hashtag
because at the City Council we are now having legislation that will make it
that a company has to hire a freelancer with a contract and we are
hoping that they will have double damages, attorneys fees, so that
freelancers can get paid. The second problem is freelancing now – as I think
you were alluding to – is on a 30, 60, 90 day invoicing system. Imagine if you did work
and you didn't get paid for three months. It's just really unconscionable, and some
of the biggest companies are doing this. And so this is a national campaign
joined by great unions like the Teachers Union, 32BJ SEIU, the Domestic Workers,
so many others to really say, "This getting paid is one of the most important things."
So, help is on the way, as we like to say.
[PRESIDENT OBAMA] There you go. OK. Good. [HOST] Thanks Sara.