Sara Horowitz, a labor lawyer, is misclassified as an independent worker instead of an employee and is excluded from receiving benefits from her employer. While the independent workforce is growing rapidly, New Deal–era protections like health and unemployment insurance aren't keeping up. She goes to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to test some theories she has about what's going on with the labor force and possible solutions.
Sara creates the nonprofit Working Today to represent the independent workforce's needs by bringing freelancers together to create power in markets and power in politics.
Echoing Green, a nonprofit dedicated to social entrepreneurship, funds Working Today. Funders like the Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Family Fund, will continue to provide invaluable support.
Working Today begins bringing freelancers together so they can access benefits, a model much like that of AARP. The Working Today Network connects 35,000 individuals, but wants to find a more powerful way to organize the workforce.
Working Today begins to formulate a policy agenda for freelancers, addressing their main challenges: the high cost of health insurance, unfair tax policies, and being excluded from the unemployment protection system.
Sara continues to educate policymakers about the freelancer agenda, pushing the GAO (Government Accountability Office) to conduct the first and only study of independent workers in America.
In the next phase of Working Today's structure, 23 professional organizations representing independent workers are linked together. The launch of the Portable Benefits Network allows Working Today to deliver benefits to independent workers in New York City. Now, how to create a sense of shared identity for these freelancers?
Working Today realizes that freelancers can organize more effectively using the internet and by tapping into existing strong communities. The organization creates Freelancers Union to reflect its expanded vision to provide benefits, resources, and advocacy to thousands of workers nationwide. (Working Today continues to operate as Freelancers Union's research and policy arm.)
The GAO, having finally agreed to study the independent workforce, releases a report that officially names and recognizes the over 42 million American independent workers and their unique challenges.
Freelancers Union launches the Freelancers Insurance Company in New York. The first of its kind social-purpose enterprise, modeled on international cooperatives and past union-built businesses, offers affordable, stable health insurance to qualified Freelancers Union members.
- Freelancers Retirement Plan launches, offering the first 401(k) plan for freelancers.
- Freelancers Union defeats the Unincorporated Business Tax, saving freelancers an average of $3,400 each year.
- Freelancers Union makes its first political endorsements and raises $30,000 in support of New York City candidates.
- The 100,000th member joins Freelancers Union, which has doubled in size in two years.
- Freelancers Union launches Health Partners, a mental health provider network, modeling a new way to give freelancers access to alternative care.
- Freelancers Union introduces legislation in New York State to protect freelancers from deadbeat clients.
- Sara Horowitz is named one of Crain's New York's 25 People to Watch.
- Client Scorecard, Contract Creator, and The Freelance Life all launch. Freelancers share their experiences, insights, and resources to help each live and work better.
- The Freelancer Payment Protection Act passes the New York State Assembly.
- Sara Horowitz is named one of the 30 Top Social Entrepreneurs by Forbes and a Top 25 Most Promising Social Entrepreneur by Businessweek.
- The social-purpose Freelancers Insurance Company is selected as a B Corporation, having met high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
- Freelancers Union is selected to sponsor nonprofit, consumer-driven health plans in New York, New Jersey, and Oregon, with $340 million in federal funding. Launching in 2014, these CO-OP health plans will expand health care to the nation's 42 million independent workers.
- The New York City Council pledges $100,000 to support Freelancers Union's plans to launch a unique freelancer medical center in Brooklyn.