May 30 15 1:31 PM

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Why do we not have a union?


I am fairly new to camming and to this site, but I know enough that it is a constant struggle amongst us to find an adequate site that will maximize our earnings. The kinds of cut that the site takes (especially when considering the amount of taxes that we are paying as individual contractors) is outrageous and getting worse. 

Why don't we have a union or form a union? There are obviously a multitude of very talented and smart women here that the sites consider an asset, and I think that coming together is the only way to fight the huge sway of these companies (rather than just trying to individually maneuver around them. 

Let me know if you have any insight

Re: Why do we not have a union?

Many reasons, but here's one: because - at least in theory - we are freelancers, and so - at least in theory - cam sites are our business partners, rather than employers. (Now, personally, I have many misgivings about this, but that's a different can of worms.)

Freelancer unions do exist - anyone remember the Hollywood writers' strike? - but the studios couldn't swap the striking writers with more eager ones from poor countries. And that is another reason we don't have a union.

Re: Why do we not have a union?

Unions generally come about as a reaction to managerial abuses. I'm trying to wrap my head around the mechanics of exactly how this would work.

How do you tell models "you can't work on this site because their payouts are lower"?
Do you enforce models setting a minimum price per minute?
What effect would seniority have on the process?
How much of a critical mass of models would you need in order to get a site to change its policies?
How do you keep the union leadership from getting bought off, especially with everything being online?

Re: Why do we not have a union?

^^^ Unions can only organize 'employees'. Thus any pre-requisite to Union representation would be conversion from independent contractor self-employed status to 'employee' status. And along with that change would come new costs for unemployment insurance, disability insurance, minimum wage hourly pay, other 'employee' benefits ( like health care and retirement ) if the person is allowed to work more than 28 hours per week, accounting / payroll processing costs, etc. Ultimately, these additional costs would have to come out of webcam host or camgirl earnings.

Also, as an 'employer', any webcam host entering into an 'employer' role would also face new 'employer' responsibilities that are not financial in nature. For example, if a camgirl were to use her webcam to solicit 'real life' hookups with customers, the webcam host could potentially be charged with 'promoting prostitution'. Along similar lines, if a camgirl were to play copyrighted music during her webcam, the webcam host could be charged with 'copyright violation'. Also, since an 'employer' webcam host could potentially be subject to 'hostile workplace' lawsuits from employee camgirls, the webcam host might be forced to block new webcam customers until they can be 'vetted' ( via credit card company or whatever ). At the very least, this could force 'employer' webcam hosts to perform background checks before hiring 'employee' camgirls ... to try and weed out those with criminal records, those who have filed claims against past 'employers', etc.

Bottom line appears to be that webcam customers are spending X amount of money. Right now that money is divided between the webcam host, the camgirls, and the taxman. Converting to 'employee' status would also force that same X amount of customer money to now also be shared with state unemployment and disability insurance funds, payroll processing services, accountants and attorneys, etc. Also, if any webcam host were to convert to 'employer' status, the reduced payout to 'employee' camgirls would undoubtedly force many existing camgirls ( and their customers ) to quickly move to a different webcam host who still treates camgirls as independent contractors ... i.e. creating a snowball situation toward bankruptcy.

Lastly, various 'employer' hiring laws would come into play ... which could potentially result in US based 'employer' webcam hosts only being allowed to hire US citizen / permanent resident camgirls, Eurozone based 'employer' webcam hosts only being allowed to hire Eurozone citizen / permanent resident camgirls, etc.

 Re: Why do we not have a union?

I personally like being an independent contractor because of the freedoms I enjoy for it, but I've always wondered if classifying cam models as independent contractors is even legal. Courts consistently rule that strippers are illegally misclassified as independent contractors and are actually employees protected by federal and state labor laws like minimum wage requirements, paid sick leave, worker's comp, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-assault, unemployment, and wage theft (unfair fees and fines) protections. Employment status is about way more than wages, and flexible shifts and half shifts are a thing.

Anyway, I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think the primary argument is that strippers are the "main attraction" and strip clubs wouldn't be in business without them (obviously true of webcam sites as well), and that clubs that exercise too much control over entertainers' labor and behavior (applicable to the way certain sites and studios operate, I think) can't legally call their workers "independent" and are basically evading payroll taxes by doing so. For those not in physical studios, our not being "in-house" might justify it but I dunno, law evolves. I'm not saying that the goal of unionizing should be challenging employment status or that all webcam models should be classified as employees, but those lawsuits do lead to change in the industry.

As for the question of why a union doesn't currently exist, geography is obviously a major deterrent and, for all the complaining we love to do, most people just want to keep their heads down and get paid. Organizing is stressful and not many folks will want to do it for a job they don't plan to keep for decades.

"I would no more be a Master than a slave. It does not conform to my idea of Democracy." Abraham Lincoln 1856.