When 30% of Workers are Freelance, How Do They Build Power On the Job?
At a time when unions are floundering and popular sentiment toward organized labor is at an all-time low of 45 percent, one workers’ organization is thriving. The Freelancers’ Union, a nonprofit organization based in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood, has more than 80,000 members in New York and 150,000 members in other states. In the seven years it has existed, the Freelancers’ Union has opened its own fully owned, for-profit insurance company, The Freelancers’ Insurance Company, and has put in place a retirement plan for independent workers. The organization hosts networking events and political canvassing; raises money for politicians who advocate for freelancers’ rights; lobbies at the state government level for legislative change; and even offers its members “corporate discounts” on gyms, Zipcars, and hotels. It is now the seventh largest union in New York State.
There’s got to be a universal system, it’s got to be paid for... I believe it still has to work through a market, because I think that you’ve got to have competition. I think you have to have subsidized capital, that’s going to make it so that if you have social outcomes, and if it’s subsidized capital, the people who don’t achieve the social outcomes don’t get more capital.