Freelancers Lack Safety Net When Jobs Are Scarce

BY busadmin  November 6, 2009 at 10:10 AM EST

Editor’s note: Tonight on the NewsHour, Paul explores the changing nature of work in a tough economy: Companies may be shedding jobs left and right, but they are increasingly looking for short-term employees to provide work they still need to complete. Enter the freelancer. By some accounts, a third of the U.S. workforce does some form of freelancing work.

But even as the flexibility of freelancing is becoming more attractive to many employers and employees alike, little security exists for such workers.

Sara Horowitz, a former labor attorney in New York, founded the Freelancers Union more than a decade ago to provide freelancers with a social safety: offering health, dental, life, and disability insurance and a 401 retirement plan, as well as networking and advocacy to make the law more freelancer-friendly.

The union has grown to 125,000 members nationwide, with 75,000 in New York alone.

In a special Business Desk video exclusive, Horowitz explains why more employers and employees are going the freelancer route, and how the law has lagged in its protections for this growing class of workers.