Collective Bargaining

Freelance writers, including book authors, deserve the right to organize and work together to improve wages and contract terms.

The Authors Guild is leading a coalition of groups representing professional creators from a wide range of industries to lobby for the right to act collectively with similarly situated creative freelance workers vis a vis those who employ them.

The creative markets today are severely tilted towards big businesses that exploit creative labor for profit on onerous, one-sided terms. Professional freelance creators have no employee protections, no benefits, no minimum wages, and no ability to collect unemployment. Many do not make minimum wage and have seen massive decreases in their pay in recent years. They have no ability to negotiate the terms on which big businesses use their works, and are increasingly forced to hand over more of their rights. This prevents them from licensing different uses for additional fees, resulting in an even further decrease in income and the inability to make a living.   

As independent contractors, professional freelance creators are treated by the law as competitive businesses that have the ability to engage in arm’s length negotiations with the buyers of their services. Although, under labor law they occupy a similar bargaining position as employees, they have no collective bargaining rights. If they engage in concerted activities such as setting minimum standards, boycotts, and collective bargaining, they can be held liable for antitrust violation.

The Authors Guild organized the Creators Together coalition to address the challenges professional freelance creators face in negotiating against the large, powerful conglomerates that dominate virtually every sector of the creative economy and unilaterally set the terms of acquisition of creative labor. Together, we are asking for changes to labor and antitrust laws to give professional freelance creators the ability to engage in collective negotiations and other concerted economic activities. Importantly, we are asking for the right to engage in collective action and negotiation as independent contractors—without the tradeoff of being classified as employees, which would divest us of our copyrights.

Legislative Proposals

Amending the National Labor Relations Act

The Authors Guild drafted a proposed amendment to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that establishes a defined category of “professional freelance creators” alongside “employees” as workers who are exempt from the antitrust collusion laws and have the right to act collectively for their mutual benefit.

Click here to read our draft amendment to the NLRA to allow freelance creators to collectively bargain (PDF)

Antitrust Exemption

With input from our coalition partners, we also drafted an exemption for professional freelance creators from antitrust law.

Click here to read our proposed legislation concerning application of antitrust laws to the bargaining activities of freelance writers, artists, and songwriters (PDF)


More Information

Previous Proposals

The PRO Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in March 2021, was the most sweeping, comprehensive labor bill in decades. The Authors Guild supported the Pro Act with a clarification to ensure that all freelance writers and authors are covered, will not be designated as employees for other purposes and under other laws, and that they retain their copyrights.

Click here to read our proposed amendments to the PRO Act.