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Social Capitalists: Working Today

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

Working Today-Freelancers Union

Sara Horowitz, executive director
Brooklyn, New York
freelancersunion.org

Sara Horowitz founded Working Today-Freelancers Union in 1995 to represent the needs and concerns of the growing independent workforce. Working Today-Freelancers Union seeks to update the nation's social safety net, developing systems so that all working people can access affordable benefits, regardless of their job arrangement. As executive director, Ms. Horowitz takes an entrepreneurial approach, pursuing creative, market-based solutions to pressing social problems.

Serving over 58,000 members, Working Today-Freelancers Union is building a new system of benefits and protections for the independent workforce. More than 16,000 people receive insurance (health, dental, life, and disability) through the organization, which recently expanded its health insurance offerings to 31 states. Dental, life, and disability insurance are available nationwide. Through these insurance offerings, Working Today-Freelancers Union has aggregated independent workers into a new market for businesses -- a market upon which the education and advocacy agenda is supported.

In addition, Working Today-Freelancers Union offers educational seminars to workers in New York City on topics such as taxes, retirement planning, and business development. We also have an online community with gig postings and a Freelancers Yellow Pages with over 5,000 listings, allowing independent workers to connect with one another and to find work.

Finally, Working Today-Freelancers Union provides a collective voice for independent workers to advocate for change. Working Today-Freelancers Union's advocacy agenda includes developing a new model for unemployment insurance for independent workers who experience episodic income, providing a government-supported program for help when freelancers don't get paid by clients, and supporting reforms to taxes that unfairly penalize the self-employed.

Working Today -- Freelancers Union, which is supported by grants from groups such as the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, has been featured throughout the popular and business press, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Wired and Fast Company; as well as on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Working Today-Freelancers Union has been recognized four times as one of the leading social entrepreneurs by Fast Company magazine.