So I was riding the A train today and saw an ad hanging on the side of the car for the Freelancers Union. Being that I’ve become a freelancer in my own right, I decided to check it out. What I discovered is a great site that offers freelancers opportunities to participate in a retirement plan, get access to benefits, as well as discounts on products that freelancers are bound to use (i.e. Freshbooks a wonderful billing service that I use for my clients).
But their mission is even bigger than offering benefits, it’s about leveling the playing field for contractors:
Freelancers Union is working to promote fairness for independent workers. We carry out unprecedented research on the independent workforce, then we educate policy makers on our group’s needs and lobby for change. Our social system is outdated, but we’ve proven that positive change is achievable. The problem is simply that there hasn’t been a movement to represent the needs of independent workers. Freelancers Union is that movement.
The history of the Freelancers Union is also very interesting:
- In 1995, Sara Horowitz, a former labor lawyer, founded Working Today to meet the needs of the growing independent workforce.
- In 2001, Working Today launched the Portable Benefits Network (PBN), to deliver benefits to independent workers in New York City.
- By 2003, the PBN was providing benefits to thousands of workers, and resources and advocacy nationwide. It was renamed Freelancers Union to better reflect its expanded vision.
- In 2007, Freelancers Union received 501(c)4 status in order to better carry out its advocacy mission. Working Today continues to exist as a 501(c)3, doing research and policy work.
- In 2008, Freelancers Union announces the creation of Freelancers Insurance Company, which they wholly own and which offers insurance only to their members in New York.
- In 2009, Freelancers Retirement Plan is launched, offering the first 401(k) plan for freelancers with 1099 income.
But best of all is their tag line: “A federation of the unaffiliated.”