I’m a lurker, but here is something I believe I know about. It is
illegal (at least in California) to have someone working on your
premises, with your tools, and define her as an independent
contractor. Even if she is working with her own tools (and sometimes
even on her own premises), the law usually rules against the employer
in these cases.
Please, Orchidians, do not walk away from these situations, even if
a lawyer tells you it isn’t worth it. I had a repetitive use injury
(not jewelry related) that 2 lawyers told me was worthless. I
eventually got over $75,000 in temporary disability ($25,000 was
retroactive), Vocational Rehab retraining, permanent medical care,
and a $45,000 permanent disability settlement. Luckily, I didn’t lose
my thumb, because I wouldn’t have gotten anymore for that. I’m not
saying the system is great, but the labor movement fought for all of
us to get this protection, and we need to use it.
If you find out that you are not covered, call your state government
and report your employer. If you find out after you’re injured, sue.
I’m not allowed to "shout’ on this list, or I would have used
capitals for that. I’m not allowed to use nasty names, but please do
not feel sorry for the xxx’s that can afford to make a profit off you
but not give you basic insurance. If they’re that hard up, they can
do the work themselves.
As for the rest of it, I would love to see a something like a
jeweler’s union–to set employment standards, get group insurance
rates for both small employers and true independent contractors, and
generally use organizing as a toll to improve the lot of those who
aren’t so successful that they can afford “securities.” No, this
profession still wouldn’t attract people who plan to go to law
school–and why would we want to?–but we could make it a little less
dangerous to become ill and grow old as an artists in this thoroughly
sick culture (I would love to hear about the systems in other
countries, which I doubt are so inhumane).
Lisa In Benicia
where everyone is an artist