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Health Care for a Changing Work Force - Freelancer's Union

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groovedaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-02-11 12:20 PM
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Health Care for a Changing Work Force - Freelancer's Union
Big institutions are often slow to awaken to major social transformations. Microsoft was famously late to grasp the importance of the Internet. American auto manufacturers were slow to identify the demand for fuel-efficient cars. And today, the United States government is making a similar mistake: it still doesnt seem to recognize that Americans no longer work the way they used to.

Today, some 42 million people about a third of the United States work force do not have jobs in the traditional sense. They fall into a catchall category the government calls contingent workers. These people independent contractors, freelancers, temp workers, part-timers, people between jobs typically work on a project-to-project basis for a variety of clients, and most are outcasts from the traditional system of benefits that provide economic security to Americans. Even as the economy has changed, employment benefits are still based on an outdated industrial-era model in which workers are expected to stay with a single company for years, if not their whole careers.

For most of the 20th century, it was efficient to link benefits to jobs this way. But today, more and more work falls outside the one-to-one, employee-to-employer relationship. Work is decentralized, workers are mobile, and working arrangements are fluid. However, the risks of life havent gone away: people still need protections. They just need a different system to distribute them. They need benefits that they can carry around, like their laptops. As things stand, millions of independent workers go without health and unemployment insurance, protection against discrimination and unpaid wages, and pension plans. It makes no sense.

One of the social innovators to recognize this problem early and act on it was Sara Horowitz, the founder of the Freelancers Union, which has more than 165,000 members across all 50 states. At Fixes, we highlight practical applications of ideas that have the potential to achieve widespread impact. That means looking at how ideas take root in institutions that become part of the fabric of society.
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