Here’s how it works: a Bazooka-gum-chewing graphic designer from Detroit decides she wants to meet others of her ilk, so she goes to Meetup.com and starts a group. (Freelancers Union covers the fee.) Soon, a cadre of gum-snapping designers is meeting regularly in Motor City, swapping info, sharing work space, and referring clients to one another.
An alternate scenario might find the entire freelance population of Tulsa getting together every week, where photographers mingle with acupuncturists and copywriters. The point is that Meetups can be as specific or as general as people like.
I recognize a third and fourth scenario, though both cut across the grain of Meetup, which is designed to help like-minded people living in the same region to find each other. There is a national network of freelancers and people engaged in the same line of work. The Burgh Diaspora blog is about encouraging the development of these dispersed communities that function effectively in a non-face-to-face environment.
However, Freelancers (and others of their ilk) must first build the local community, which is what their Meetup initiative aims to accomplish. I'm curious to see if different regions cultivate different freelancer strengths. Also, freelancers in a certain line of business struggling to cobble together a living in an over-saturated market, might discover an opportunity in a second-tier city starved for certain creative talents.
Ideally, labor would relocate to where the demand for their services is greatest, something any union should appreciate.