Peers is joining the Indy Worker Guild

Natalie Foster and Shelby Clark, Peers co-founders

The American workforce is changing. We’ve seen a fundamental shift away from the single-employer career of the 1950s toward an economy where workers expect to have multiple jobs over the course of a lifetime. Indeed, some of us expect to hold multiple streams of work simultaneously.

Many have embraced this increased flexibility, crafting careers as freelancers and using on-demand work opportunities to supplement income when needed. However, the social safety net our nation built to help ensure economic security — in particular the suite of benefits and protections like paid time off or workers’ compensation — have not kept pace with these changes in the economy.

That’s why we originally launched Peers in 2013 as an organization for people working in new ways, and why we’re so pleased that, today, Peers is merging into the newly created Indy Worker Guild. Under the able and inspired leadership of Saket Soni, Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) and Kati Sipp, Managing Director, the Indy Worker Guild will be a growing voice for independent workers who want stability, flexibility, voice, and power.

Drawing on promising city and state level proposals and the insights of workers themselves, the Indy Worker Guild will be working to innovate new solutions for independent and gig workers. One of the first areas that the Indy Worker Guild will focus is building a universal, portable and pro-rated social safety net known as “portable benefits.”

Momentum for portable benefits is growing. We joined Saket and others in laying out design principles for a portable pro-rated and universal social safety net in 2015. Since then, we’ve both worked to help make portable benefits a reality. Peers launched resources to help people find critical benefits specifically tailored to independent workers. We continued to support the movement by publishing the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative’s Portable Benefits Resource Guide and Portable Benefits in the 21st Century: Shaping a New System of Benefits for Independent Workers.

Putting our energy, resources, and community behind the Indy Worker Guild, backed by the National Guestworkers Alliance, is one of the best ways we can continue to advance the movement to support modern workers.

Over the past decade, NGA has been building voice and winning innovative policy solutions for a broad range of contingent workers in the new economy. Their members span industries including construction, service, hospitality, food processing, and logistics.

They realized that rideshare drivers, adjunct professors and day laborers alike are all part of changing nature of work. Many gig workers struggle not only to make ends meet, but to access basic benefits like healthcare and retirement plans, and to deal with racial and gender discrimination. That’s why the National Guestworker Alliance has launched the Indy Worker Guild, to give workers in the gig economy a voice.

We’re proud of Peers. It’s been a wild ride, but we’ve enjoyed the ups and downs along the way, and are proud of what our community has accomplished. Peers launched in 2013, and quickly grew to 250,000 strong around the globe as part of our advocacy work. We listened to our community, and under Shelby’s leadership, we began helping gig economy workers find critical benefits, including health insurance, disability insurance, and retirement, that are specifically tailored to independent workers. Peers was one of the first organizations thinking about a modern safety net for gig workers when we launched the novel “keep driving” car replacement program for ridesharing drivers in 2014, and most recently, our community has been an outspoken advocate of portable benefits.

Here’s a shout out to the best founding team anyone could ask for in Douglas Atkin, Ashley Baia, Kevin Gough, Kit Hayes, Joseph Ingram, Milicent Johnson, Alex Lofton, Cristina Moon, Matt Palevsky, Josh Peck, Cindy Phan, Fiona Ramsey, Libby Reder, Sam Witherbee, and James Slezak. You’re truly the best.

We couldn’t be more pleased to join Saket, Kati and the newly former Indy Workers Guild. Join us in joining the Indy Worker Guild — and here’s to growing a movement of people to advocate for a 21st century social safety net.