I’ve been up, down, and all around reading about this topic. I write today as a layperson. I am not a lawyer. I am not writing as a union authority. We all know that deposition reporters are, for the most part, 1099s or independent contractors. I’ve written about this topic before. To quickly go over the issue, typically lawyers hire reporting companies, and typically reporting companies hire deposition reporters. More often than not, the court reporting company labels the deposition reporter as an independent contractor.
The government, such as the Workers Comp Board or IRS, uses several criteria to decide whether someone is an independent contractor regardless of what the hiring entity and hired entity call the arrangement. These criteria, in sum and substance, look at whether the hiring entity has direction and control over the hired entity. Do they tell you when, where, how to work? Do they make you work only for them? Do they make you carry their advertising materials? Do they maintain final say over your work? Truly, the bottom line from my experience in New York is that there are true independent contractors, people who are not under direction and control of the agency/reporting company, and there are misclassified employees. People who would likely qualify as employees in the eyes of the government.
Quite often there are talks about unionization. The bottom line is freelancers cannot really unionize, aside from creating a bargaining company like the old Federation of Shorthand Reporters or the Freelancers Union, at least as far as I can tell. That is to say true freelancers cannot unionize.
That said, misclassfied employees could certainly challenge their status. But this would be a considerable undertaking. One or more freelance reporters would likely have to challenge their status by reporting what they believed to be a misclassificstion to the Department of Labor or whatever government entity handles that, have their status changed, and then they could unionize.
Because this post is likely to only ever have a limited audience of daredevils, I’ll save the rest for outside links. I got a profound description of difference between ICs and employees and how one could challenge that on Quora. And should anyone ever make that challenge and manage to remain employed, the steps for unionization are freely available from sources like AFL CIO. Factually, I also wrote about independent contractor versus employee, and if you would like to read about Workers Compensation or IRS guidelines, you can read my old post here. I should also say that Mary Ann Payonk plans to have union authorities speak at a Reporter Empowerment conference in 2018, and at such time, should I have more information, I will link it here.
That’s all. I encourage people to talk amongst themselves and share information, but without a serious majority decision in the field, the part of the field that is being micromanaged, directed, controlled, I believe the best bet is to continue pushing for reporters to be at the top of their game and train them to be all that an independent contractor and entrepreneur must be to be successful and achieve whatever they want to achieve.