It's incredibly hard to get by as a contractor in America. It shouldn't have to be.
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The Rockefeller Foundation

Retirement, paid sick days, a steady schedule — in theory, these should be a given for all working people. In practice, not so much.

Right now, a little over 10% of the American workforce is part of the “gig economy,” according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, which means that most or all of their main income comes from work they do as independent contractors or through temp, on-call, and contract work.

They aren't guaranteed direct deposits, they don't get paid-time off, and they often have to grapple with stagnating wages and self-employment taxes. Plus, there is no employer contribution when it comes to saving for retirement and health care coverage.


This means that health care can also get expensive quickly. Full-time employment versus contract employment is the difference between putting an average of $89 a month toward the health care benefits provided by your company and paying an average of $396 a month for coverage on your own.

All photos via iStock.

Making matters worse, many low-earning contractors or gig economy workers are among the 55% of Americans that live paycheck to paycheck. This means that they don’t earn enough to build a safety net in case of an unexpected emergency. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, nearly half of Americans struggle to scrape together even $400 when something unexpected comes up — like car trouble.

The solutions available during these times of emergency, such as borrowing from friends and family or payday lending, can be inaccessible or predatory, which means that these workers are often forced to make an impossible choice between feeding their family or fixing the car.

There's a clear need for a safety net for these workers — that's why one organization, The Workers Lab, is working tirelessly to provide it.

Supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Workers Lab funds experiments and innovations that build power for working people.

“What we learn is that working people are living the unjust reality of being poor while working harder and producing more than ever,” says Carmen Rojas, CEO of The Workers Lab.

One way to help these contractors is by providing them with access to portable benefits. These are benefits that would stay with contractors even as they move among jobs. Portable benefits could include paid sick leave, disability insurance, and an emergency fund, for starters.

“These workers deserve more than merely making ends meet. They deserve to live lives of opportunity, mobility, and dignity,” says Rojas.

The Workers Lab also believes we need to reimagine and rebuild the social safety net for all workers, regardless of where and how they work. All workers need the security of knowing that their immediate needs are being met and that they have health care, a steady paycheck, and a way to retire when it comes time for that.

“We owe it to all working people to ensure that they are not wasting the best years of their lives barely scraping by,” says Rojas.

61% of American workers struggle to come up with $1,000 in a financial emergency. To help them thrive instead of scrape by, The Workers Lab’s immediate goal is to get low-earning contractors and low wage workers the money they need when they are hit with an unexpected expense.

That's why they are working to establish a fund that would give contractors access to meaningful cash infusions for such situations — which can be a huge relief.

Failing to adapt to workers immediate needs could be detrimental to the future, which is why organizations like The Workers Lab are working so hard to find timely solutions.

Because of your support we had an incredibly successful 2017! Including TRIPLING our funding. Read more about all of our...

Posted by The Workers Lab on Saturday, December 30, 2017

Imagine a workforce where all you have to think about is your work. You wouldn't have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to pay for your annual physical or your upcoming knee surgery. You can rest easy knowing that if an emergency hits, you won’t have to make an impossible choice or turn to a payday lender just to feed your family.

This might sound like an impossible dream now, but with increased awareness of the problems faced by contract workers and with organizations like The Workers Lab working tirelessly to find solutions to help workers without safety nets, it's closer to reality than ever before.

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot — or will not.

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Crest

Some of the moments that make us smile the most have come from everyday heroes, like our hardworking teachers.

Everyone could use a little morning motivation, so Crest – the #1 Toothpaste Brand in America – is teaming up with some popular digital all-stars to share their smile-worthy, positivity-filled (virtual) pep talks for this year's back-to-school season!

As part of this campaign, Crest is donating toothpaste to Feeding America to unleash even more smiles for families who need it the most.

Let's encourage confident smiles this back-to-school season. Check out Mr. McTiktok's back-to-school pep talk above!

Heather Cox Richardson didn't set out to build a fan base when she started her daily "Letters from an American." The Harvard-educated political historian and Boston College professor had actually just been stung by a yellow-jacket as she was leaving on a trip from her home in Maine to teach in Boston last fall when she wrote her first post.

Since she's allergic to bees, she decided to stay put and see how badly her body would react. With some extra time on her hands, she decided to write something on her long-neglected Facebook page. It was September of 2019, and Representative Adam Schiff had just sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence stating that the House knew there was a whistleblower complaint, the DNI wasn't handing it over, and that wasn't legal.

"I recognized, because I'm a political historian, that this was the first time that a member of Congress had found a specific law that they were accusing a specific member of the executive branch of violating," Richardson told Bill Moyers in an interview in July. "So I thought, you know, I oughta put that down, 'cause this is a really important moment. If you knew what you were looking for, it was a big moment. So I wrote it down..."

By the time she got to Boston she has a deluge of questions from people about what she'd written.

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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

When I opened Twitter Saturday morning, I saw "Chris Evans" and "Captain America" trending. Evans is my favorite of the Marvel Chrises, so naturally I clicked to see what was happening with him—then quickly became confused. I saw people talking about "nude leaks," some remarks about (ahem) "size," and something about how he'd accidentally leaked naked photos of himself. But as I scrolled through the feed (not looking for the pics, just trying to figure out what happened) the only photos I saw were of him and his dog, occasionally sprinkled with handsome photos of him fully clothed.

Here's what had happened. Evans apparently had shared a video in his Instagram stories that somehow ended with an image of his camera roll. Among the tiled photos was a picture of a penis. No idea if it was his and really don't care. Clearly, it wasn't intentional and it appears the IG story was quickly taken down.

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Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

Harvard historian Donald Yacovone didn't set out to write the book he's writing. His plan was to write about the legacy of the antislavery movement and the rise of the Civil Rights era, but as he delved into his research, he ran into something that changed the focus of his book completely: Old school history textbooks.

Now the working title of his book is: "Teaching White Supremacy: The Textbook Battle Over Race in American History."

The first book that caught his attention was an 1832 textbook written Noah Webster—as in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary—called "History of the United States." Yacovone, a 2013 recipient of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois medal—the university's highest award for African American studies—told the Harvard Gazette about his discovery:

"In Webster's book there was next to nothing about the institution of slavery, despite the fact that it was a central American institution. There were no African Americans ever mentioned. When Webster wrote about Africans, it was extremely derogatory, which was shocking because those comments were in a textbook. What I realized from his book, and from the subsequent ones, was how they defined 'American' as white and only as white. Anything that was less than an Anglo Saxon was not a true American. The further along I got in this process, the more intensely this sentiment came out. I realized that I was looking at, there's no other word for it, white supremacy. I came across one textbook that declared on its first page, 'This is the White Man's History.' At that point, you had to be a dunce not to see what these books were teaching."

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