Next Steps on Finding Common Ground for Independent Workers

Last month, 40 leading thinkers signed a letter in support of a set of principles for delivering a stable and flexible safety net for all types of work. These signatories come from diverse backgrounds — some from business and industry; others from non-profits and unions; still others from the world of academia and venture capital.

The response to the letter has been very encouraging. (If you haven’t seen the coverage, check out the stories here, here, here, and here.)

This is clearly an area of profound interest for many organizations and individuals, who believe that addressing the challenge of stability and flexibility in a changing economy is critical to the future competitiveness of our nation, and that workers, no matter how they are classified, need a safety net. But it is also a conversation playing out against a broader set of changes in the economy, prompting a series of related discussions in Washington, D.C.

Last week in Washington, DC many of the letter signatories took part in a follow-up policy discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work initiative, which is co-chaired by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and former Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

The event featured remarks from Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Senator Warner, along with panel discussions on “how we might adapt the social contract for workers in America in the wake of sweeping economic shifts.” You can find information about the event here, and the event video is now available online as well.

This event comes on the heels of two other Washington forums earlier in the month — the release of a major paper by the Hamilton Project proposing a third “independent worker” classification and the Future of Work Symposium hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor that explored a wide range of ideas on business models, classification, enforcement, and benefits and protections. The evolving nature of work is clearly an area that is resonating and generating a significant amount of interest and attention.

Despite all this activity, in many ways we are just getting started. During the next phase, we are looking to deepen the discussion, unlock more data and research, hear from workers directly, understand and inspire creative policy responses, and continue to build on the groundswell of support. And we intend to take the conversation outside of Washington and into communities that are experiencing these changes firsthand.

This is an important issue facing today’s workforce and innovative companies, and we look forward to working collaboratively to find lasting solutions that will ensure a stable and flexible safety net for workers from all walks of life.

Natalie Foster/Greg Nelson/Libby Reder/Lenny Mendonca

Contact us at portablebenefits@gmail.com and follow on Medium.

Please note that we do not speak for the other signatories; but we will provide periodic updates to keep interested parties informed about key milestones, developments, and ideas of significant interest.