A recent AP story about bloggers unionizing, which emerged from a discussion at the Yearly Kos, interested us for all the obvious reasons: a group of independent workers wants to form an association to address labor and benefits issues. The response to the article has been mixed, and has resulted in lots of chatter in the blogosphere and a follow-up piece at Salon. At Suburban Guerrilla, Susie Madrak explains the principle behind the idea that's being floated: "I am trying to get bloggers affiliated with a large group so [health insurance is] cheaper." That's exactly the rationale behind our own health plans, so obviously we think that's a great idea. Secondly, Madrak suggests that bloggers need a tax-free fund they can pay into, and then draw benefits when they're sick or under financial duress. Aside from disability insurance, which we already offer nationwide, one of the latest issues we're working on is a system of unemployment insurance for freelancers. In our issue brief, we suggest one possibility similar to Madrak's idea:
Develop a separate system of unemployment protection for self-employed workers that would allow them to set aside pre-tax dollars accessible only during periods of unemployment. Such accounts could be similar to Health Savings Accounts, in that unused funds would be accessible upon reaching retirement age.
The Brookings Institution has proposed a similar solution. In any case, it looks as though the issues that make bloggers want to unionize are largely the same as those that concern freelance workers as a whole.