A Workers' Lobby to Provide Portable Benefits

Joni Hersch

in Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780226261577
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226261812 | DOI:
A Workers' Lobby to Provide Portable Benefits

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In 1995, Sara Horowitz founded an employees' lobby called Working Today. Working Today has shifted from seeking to represent all workers via a membership organization to providing private services to independent workers, with the primary emphasis on provision of portable benefits. This chapter begins with an overview of how organizations form and survive. It then provides additional background on the broad-based workers' lobby suggested by the prominent sociologist Herbert Gans in 1993, followed by a discussion of two highly successful membership organizations, AARP and Common Cause. It also describes the evolution of Working Today, proposes a model of fundraising by a workers' organization in which the founder must allocate resources between the provision of public goods and the provision of private goods. The chapter examines the market for health insurance supplied by an organization such as Working Today, identifies specific policy areas involving independent workers in which a workers' lobby might fruitfully address its efforts, evaluates the accomplishments and prospects of Working Today, and assesses the prospects of a broad-based workers' lobby.

Keywords: workers' lobby; Working Today; portable benefits; health insurance; AARP; Common Cause; Herbert Gans; fundraising; public goods; private goods

Chapter.  9669 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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