Some already get benefits through their agencies, but federal data show they have less access to health and retirement benefits.
Contingent workers also lack the bulletin boards, human-resources newsletters and fellow co-workers who push workers into enrolling for benefits.
The trick, says Sara Horowitz, executive director of New York's Working Today, "is to mirror the longer-term relationships other people have in their workplace."
Working Today, which labor experts watch as a potential future model, works through guilds and other membership groups to sell group-priced benefits to workplace loners. The nonprofit organization has signed up about 400 members toward a modest year-end goal of 1,000, according to the Journal.
Some workers aren't interested because they don't consider themselves contingent. Federal data show about 52 percent want permanent jobs. "The goal of people in this work force is to get out of this work force," says Tim Costello of the National Alliance for Fair Employment, a temp group.
The union-affiliated Working Partnerships Membership Association, with Kaiser Permanente, offers discounted health care. It enrolls about seven Silicon Valley workers a week, says founder Amy Dean. "They don't come to you. You have to come to them," says Dean.
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Wall Street Journal notes that some new groups are trying to help provide greater benefits for the nation's growing number of contingent workers - temps, freelancers, contract workers, and others outside the traditional employer-employee relationship.