When I founded the union nearly 20 years ago, we were trying to make sense of this new type of worker -- and bring them together to solve their problems.
In 2001, we began connecting members with the quality, affordable health insurance they needed -- eventually launching our own social-purpose insurance company covering 25,000 New Yorkers.
Today, I’m proud to announce what’s next.
We are embarking on an ambitious national expansion -- bringing the sustainable, social-purpose model we’ve built in New York to all of the nation’s 53 million freelancers.
Freelancers Union going to scale will mean new ways for independent workers nationally to buy benefits, access health care, get work, and connect to each other. Instead of millions of individuals on their own, we’re weaving our members together in a true freelancer network and creating a new mutualist marketplace.
Our National Benefits Platform will enable all freelancers to easily access curated, high-quality options for health insurance, retirement plans, and disability, liability, dental and life insurance. It’s an easy, searchable platform where any freelancer in any ZIP code can buy what’s best for them.
And that’s our key difference. All our investments are done with a social-purpose strategy -- no IPOs, no extractions to outside investors who push a short-term economic agenda. The job of our model is to work for freelancers!
We’re also expanding our Freelancers Medical no-co-pay primary care centers to new cities across America. We expect to build as many as 15 in the next five years.
We learned from our members that in an Obamacare world, just getting access to health coverage isn’t their biggest challenge. Instead, it’s getting access to quality care -- to help our members live, in the words of RWJF President Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a “culture of health.”
That’s where Freelancers Medical comes in. Our members have shown us that they want care that treats them as a full, 360-degree person. That’s why Freelancers Medical has a full suite of traditional health services as well as free yoga, meditation, and even professional development and networking classes. And that’s why we’re bringing the model to more cities.
Our centers are true community spaces. Freelancers have events, meetings, and classes there -- living out their full lives.
And in the coming months, we’ll be expanding on the launch of Hives, our online community platform where freelancers are already building groups for mutual support, and After Hours, our national member-led networking series currently in seven cities and soon to double.
I started Freelancers Union because I’ve always believed in the power of solidarity -- that there is nothing more powerful than workers coming together to support their common interests.
We must build a new form of labor. The way we work and the way the economy works are inextricably linked -- that’s why we have to get this right.