Working for yourself has advantages, but even freelancers and other self-employed workers still need outside support. Joining a freelancers union is one way to gain access to services, benefits and other perks that may not otherwise be available when you work as an independent contractor. Unlike other unions, freelancers unions are relatively new and are more like professional trade organizations. Even so, they can play an important role in your career by offering these 6 key benefits.
Access to Health BenefitsOne of the biggest obstacles, or challenges, in working independently is the lack of health care options. By becoming a member of a union, or other type of professional membership-based organization, you often have the opportunity to purchase health insurance at a group rate. Not only do you get good deals on monthly fees and lowered deductibles, you may also gain the ability to choose from more than one type of healthcare plan.
Participate in Key Advocacy EffortsProfessional organizations, specifically industry-specific unions, offer a united front to promote and lobby for key issues and standards within the industry. This can include everything from standardization of fair pay scales and benefits to monitoring working conditions, tax guidelines and lobbying for critical legislation on both a local and national level.
Broaden Access to Available Jobs and ProjectsA freelancers union typically provides the ability for prospective clients to advertise job opportunities and projects. In fact, the union may actively solicit job postings as an added value to its membership. Even informally, members often refer work to one another. This means you have another source for identifying potential projects and broadening your pool of potential clients.
Network with Peers and Industry ExpertsWorking by yourself can be a bit isolating at times. Belonging to a union provides a built-in network of other self-employed professionals for you to turn to for advice and support. Additionally, membership in an established trade organization often opens the doors to seminars, worshops and other structured learning opportunities, and can even give you direct access to industry experts. Whether you are networking with professional advisors or peers, having a place to go for advice and support within your industry can be an important part of finding success as a freelancer.
Get Support for Your BusinessFreelancers unions typically provide its members with access to articles, research and other information that can be beneficial to your growing business. In addition, professional training and other important resources may be available at no cost, or for a reduced fee. This can include everything from sales and marketing training to accounting and legal guidance.
Qualify for Member-only DiscountsAlthough most of the freelancers unions now in existance are free, once you officially join you gain access to a variety of member-only discounts for business (and personal) services and products. Anyone who has worked for themselves before can fully appreciate the benefit of saving a couple of dollars here and a few more dollars there. Discounts can include a wide range of items such as travel and hotel accomodations, office supplies, professional training, optical services (not included in health benefits), and even restaurants and entertainment venues.