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Social Capitalists: Working Today

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Working Today

Brooklyn, NY
Year founded: 1995
Executive director: Sara Horowitz
www.freelancersunion.org

Working Today was founded to create a new safety net for independent workers. The traditional employer-centered model of work that provides a paycheck as well as health insurance, retirement plans, and access to government-sponsored social insurance programs is evolving into a variety of alternative and flexible models of work. About 30% of workers are in "alternative" arrangements, as independent contractors, temps, part-timers, contract workers, and the self-employed. Working Today's members work in industries ranging from media and technology to domestic childcare--and due to their non-traditional employment arrangements, they do not have access to employer-based benefits, such as health insurance.

In 2001, Working Today launched Freelancers Union, a portable benefits delivery system with benefits linked to the individual rather than the employer. It enables independent workers to access group-rate health insurance plans in New York State priced at less than one-third of the average price in the individual market. Freelancers Union has since expanded to offer additional group benefits including dental, life, and disability insurance; educational events; and discounts on goods and services.

Working Today's national expansion will give independent workers around the country access to insurance and retirement programs, as well as other benefits generally available only to traditional employees. Already, eligible independent workers in all 50 states can get life and disability insurance. Health insurance will be introduced on a state-by-state basis.

This year, in order to support its advocacy goals and help create a sense of community among independent workers, Working Today launched a completely rebuilt Freelancers Union website. More than just a new public face for the organization, the website includes an online community that serves as a platform linking independent workers to potential employers, discounted professional service providers, information about their insurance products and accounts, and to each other. The website is an ongoing project, as Working Today aims to find better, more useful tools for members to interact with each other and participate in advocacy campaigns.

Looking forward, Working Today is expanding its mutual aid and portable benefit delivery strategies to offer retirement plans and legal, financial, and tax services. These initiatives begin to take effect in early 2007, when Working Today launches individual 401(k) accounts for members nationwide.

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