The future of welfare: the New York plan may provide a model.
A new NPR/Marist poll shows a fifth of American jobs are held by contract workers. Within a decade, contractors and freelancers could account for half of America’s workforce. In the week-long series, NPR discusses many aspects of the change.
The way people work is changing, but government policy is slow to adapt. In one case, however, a New York project was ahead of schedule.
Employment benefits such as paid leave, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation are usually reserved for full-time workers. But more and more americans are working freelance or contract workers, which requires a different kind of welfare system — a system that does not depend on a single full-time employer.
There are few options. However, a model called the black car fund is often cited as a model for how future benefits work.
The fund is unique to New York state, which established the fund in 1999 to provide compensation for injured contract drivers.
It covers about 125,000 drivers across the state, whether they are Uber, Lyft or more traditional taxis or limousine services, with a 2.5 per cent consumer surcharge.
Other states, including Washington state and New Jersey, are considering bills requiring a variety of free career services that would be used to pay for the benefits of these workers.
Building such a system would mean a logistical challenge: who paid that and what? Who covers it? For what?
Many experts believe the black car fund provides some answers.
“This is really the first kind of innovation,” said Alastair fitzpine, director of the aspen institute’s future work program. ‘under the current U.S. system, workers are not employees, they are eligible for benefits, they are contractors, and they are not covered by insurance,’ he said.
“So it’s a very black and white system that doesn’t offer much flexibility in terms of how employers can effectively provide benefits,” he said.
‘the black car fund evades this in a completely different way,’ Mr. Fitzpan said. He says the fund works because it is authorized by the state government and enjoys the support of taxi and luxury car industry as a fair and fair way to solve the problem of drivers.
One recent beneficiary was Houchang Golzari, a 70-year-old Iranian immigrant who drove Town Car in New York City.
Golzari was a programmer in the medical profession 30 years ago. This is the last time he has received health insurance, unemployment insurance and other benefits through his employer.
“They gave me everything,” he said.
Then, when he was fired, it all disappeared. “They don’t need you, they say, ‘bye, go out’. ”
Now, as a contractor, Golzari pays his own retirement and health insurance.
Last February, an uninsured driver hit him from behind, damaging his car, neck and back. He was able to hand over his medical and physical therapy bill to the Black Car Fund, which would also compensate for some of his wage losses. He said that through the money, he was exempt from financial worries about the accident.
“It’s not my problem,” he said. “I’ve been overwritten, I’m happy, and I think it’s my benefit.”
He says the system should be everywhere, for various contractors. “I think they should have it all over the country, because that’s a good thing.”
Ira Goldstein, chief executive of the black car foundation, called it “the absolutely right model”. He says the foundation collects payments from people who use the services and can use it to both part-time and full-time drivers.
Mr. Goldstein said the money was expanding, exceeding the workers’ compensation and providing $50, 000 in death subsidies to drivers’ families. It also pays drivers to participate in defensive driving and health seminars, and plans to provide eye care and telemedicine to encourage drivers to check.
The number of drivers in New York has surged in recent years, according to Goldstein, thanks to the popularity of riding services. Still, the nonprofit raised interest rates only in 18 years, he said.
The fund is increasingly relevant because it addresses changes in how people work and is rare for government programs. Lawmakers and industry leaders often come to Goldstein for advice.
“I think it’s so revolutionary, ahead of its time,” he said. The program started in 2000, he notes, “in 2018, now we are talking about now this is a national problem, and it is a national problem, people are trying to find solutions.”
Representing the d-wash in the north of Seattle. Suzan DelBene is one of the fund’s admirers.
She said: “our economy is changing, and in many cases, we have not catch up with the laws and policies in today’s economy, not to mention the direction in the future.”
DelBene with Virginia democrat mark warner in the United States senate has proposed a plan, the plan will be to the city, state, and non-profit organizations to provide $20 million in seed money for freelancers to provide new way of delivery. Otherwise, DelBene says, many workers are in trouble and turning to public assistance.
Local and state officials “felt some of these pressures and understood the importance of today’s issue and how important it will be in the future,” she said.