Brooklyn, New York
Executive director: Sara Horowitz
Previous winner: 2004
What it does: A shift in the labor force toward "nontraditional" employment has left 30 million freelancers, contractors, and temporary workers to fend for themselves. Working Today provides New York's growing independent workforce with health, life, and disability insurance at half what they would pay on their own. It also works to educate policy makers and the public on the needs of independent workers.
Results: Working Today has more than 14,000 members, 8,000 of whom receive health insurance through its Portable Benefits Network.
Aspiration and growth: A-
Working Today is building a new delivery system for benefits in America. Due to a shift in the American labor force, an increasing number of workers are unable to access basic benefits and protections. More than 30 million individuals are now employed in nontraditional arrangements as freelancers, contractors, and temporary workers in industries ranging from media and technology to domestic child care and taxi drivers, and all indicators suggest that these numbers are increasing. These independent workers do not have access to employer-based health, life, and disability insurance; cannot access unemployment insurance; are prevented from seeking redress for workplace discrimination; are barred from unionizing; and are subject to regressive and onerous payroll taxes for self-employment.
In order to serve the evolving workforce, Working Today is both developing a vision of what the next safety net will look like and directly serving New York's independent workforce with low-cost health, life, and disability insurance through the Portable Benefits Network (PBN). For the first time, the PBN links benefits to individuals, rather than to employers, so independent workers can maintain benefits as they move from job to job and project to project. PBN benefits are so compelling, providing group-rate benefits through HIP Health Plan at less than half the price of the average HMO on the individual market, that Working Today has attracted a membership of more than 13,000 individuals with over 8,000 receiving health insurance. In addition, Working Today has formed partnerships with 48 intermediary organizations, including community groups, professional organizations, staffing agencies, small businesses, and guilds, allowing us to reach a network of 45,000 independent workers in New York City. Working Today truly addresses the problem of uninsurance: Nearly half of our PBN members had no previous insurance coverage.
Working Today's membership, in turn, serves as a vehicle for social change--both by acting as an organized constituency to advocate for change to public policy and by contributing to Working Today's financial sustainability. Working Today's members are actively involved in our policy work and nearly 3,000 individuals participated in our most recent advocacy campaign to educate thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the needs of the independent workforce. The organization will break even during 2006 and will fund its own advocacy and education work after that time.
The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.