Sara Horowitz Takes Stock of the Freelancer’s Union
Question: How has the Freelancer’s Union adjusted to the downturn?
Sara Horowitz: Well, let me just say yes. We had 65,000 members last year. We have about 106,000. And we’re growing, you know, between 3 and 4,000 a month now. And I would say that our strategy was with these assumptions in mind. Not so much that we knew that the market was going to tank but recognized that the market in which freelancers and independent contractors play in was one that wasn’t really even recognized as a market. And if you look at Clay Christensen’s work on disruptive innovations, you could really see that this was something that was just not on people’s radar. This group couldn’t unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. Government hasn’t really seen them as a constituency. Interestingly, last week, I don’t know if you saw that Mayor Bloomberg announced a partnership with the Freelancers Union, recognizing the importance of developing an unemployment system, looking at the [IB] taxation system, and some of the issues around workspace. And I think it’s significant ‘cause Mayor Bloomberg is not just the mayor of a particularly small town but of New York and he is, you know, known for his acumen about business. So, I think our strategy has been to build the safety net, to have an orientation of entrepreneurship where we build it ourselves. We build our own institutions. We run our institutions. We’re self-sufficient. We’ve been self-sufficient since 2006. I like the discipline of that. If there’s something that we’re doing badly, our members let us know. They let us know loudly, constantly. While it maybe annoying in the moment, it actually, I think, keeps us really robust. And I think that’s really good and I think others should do that too.
Question: What is the gig economy?
Sara Horowitz: I really like the way Tina Brown put it. And I think that they’re interesting generational things. So that if you are talking to somebody who is, let’s say, over 50, who has been laid off and he’s just confronting freelancing, it’s a very difficult transition for people who have known a job or you get your benefits and the regularity of a paycheck. But after somebody has gotten… sort of come to realize they’re not going back to that or if they do, it’ll be short-term, then they realize this is… it is what it is. I think people who are graduating from college expect this now and just don’t have the resentment and… are just much more, like, okay, how are we going to deal with it. I think the interesting group that is probably the most clueless are elective officials, ironically, probably because they collect the regular paycheck and their W-2s. Unless they’re in a campaign and then, their, like, young staff say to them, by the way… You know, actually, the workforce just change. And I think, like, when you listen to the debates of congress people and senators, it’s, like, remarkable to me at how they are in such a bubble and don’t understand, like, just on the brass tacks of what this economy is really like and… I think that that’s something that still is pretty disappointing to me, as I listen to the discussions in Washington, that they really aren’t aware of these profound changes. I think that the distinction between W-2 employment and 1099 is going to become less and less. And the singular form of work is going to be just much shorter term, which isn’t to say that there aren’t going to be jobs that are full-time, you know, there’s still going to be employers that will pay extra benefits to retain the people that they need or want. But as a trend, for sure, I see that. And I don’t see how it wouldn’t be with globalization. And, you know, the shift in… where capital is going, you know, to Asia, India, China, these things are just going to really have big ramifications for us here.
The labor expert considers Tina Brown’s analysis of the gig economy.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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