IBM, which employs about 400,000 people around the globe, is reportedly considering converting three quarters of its permanent staff to contractors over the next seven years, according to Personnel Today. While an IBM spokesman denies that there are any such plans, it's hard to imagine there have not been - at the very least - some serious conversations about the workforce inside IBM's walls.The head of IBM's Human Capital Management notes the distinct advantages for the company: "There would be no buildings costs, no pensions and no healthcare costs, making huge savings." For more than a year now we've been watching companies across the board downsize or shift their staffing. If they need additional personnel to complete their projects, they're turning to independent contractors. But as lean as is the company without full-time staff, so too the freelancer - no pension, no health care, no protection. Since noticing that tough equation over a decade ago, our 130,000+ community of freelancers has been innovating and building a system in which we protect and support ourselves and each other with health insurance, a freelancer 401(k), and a political movement to establish new rules and protections for this emerging workforce. Who knows? In 2017, IBM's project-based staff may count themselves in our numbers and be enjoying all the security and rights they always had, but with with the invaluable addition of freedom.