Doctor

Kathleen Lomax

I’m a doctor of medicine in the pharmaceutical industry. I recently created an LLC to take on contract jobs. I want to control my hours and travel for leisure after more than 17 years of working in a variety of full-time pharmaceutical jobs. Being an independent contractor will allow me to be at home for my kids when I need to be there, yet still use my medical training to earn an income.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I will be forced to do another long commute, and my kids will be stuck at the library for hours until someone can pick them up.

What I want lawmakers to do: Stop causing so many people so much unneeded stress. Use surgical precision in combating the problematic business practices of companies like Uber and Lyft without ruining every other independent contractor’s livelihood.

PowerPoint specialist, Presentation designer

Cathy Smith

I have been in presentation graphics since 1982, working sales, training and support for Autographix, a turnkey slide system. When my daughter was born in 1990, I decided to strike out as a freelancer with all the companies that I helped sell the systems to. In 1993, when turnkey went the way of the dinosaur, I was introduced to PowerPoint. It has been paying the rent for me as an independent contractor ever since.

Clients from across the country and around the world come to me by word of mouth. I create, reformat and polish PowerPoint decks for them from the comfort of my home office. I have worked with C-suite executives in all kinds of industries: pharmaceutical, prestige cosmetics, medical education, insurance, fashion, telecom, food and finance.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: Working in the late ’70s and early ’80s as a full-time employee, with all of the commutes, bosses, co-workers, evaluations and corporate culture, made me crazy. I was lucky to find a way out. Autonomy is everything! I love what I do, and I am really good at it.

And, at this point, age discrimination would most certainly get in the way of me returning to a full-time job. No one would pay me what I make as an independent contractor, if they would hire me at all, given that I am well past traditional retirement age.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I would be forced to move out of New Jersey. I am a digital nomad who can work anywhere.

What I want lawmakers to know: It has taken me almost 30 years to evolve my business to where it is today. Keep your nose out of my business. Vote no on S4204/A5936.

Marketing consultant, Social media consultant, Video Editor, Writer

Elizabeth Uss Barry

My typical workday begins at 8:30 a.m., as soon as my 3-year-old son with special needs leaves for preschool on the school bus. I work on various projects for my clients: planning social media calendars, writing blogs posts and editing video to share. Sometimes, I go to their offices for planning meetings or to go over what is working and what isn’t, in order to change the strategy, or to take photos and video “behind the scenes.” My workday concludes when my son steps off the school bus at 3:30 p.m. I also work on weekends when my husband is home to take care of our son.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: I’ve always been a freelancer. I was a freelance television producer for 20 years prior to my current consulting role, and now, because I need to be home with my son and take him to therapy appointments after school, remaining a freelancer is the only way that I can still use my skills and help pay the bills. I could not work as an employee because I cannot keep 9-to-5 hours, plus commuting hours.

What’s wrong with S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): B-prong of the ABC test that this legislation intends to codify would force my clients to choose between making me an employee or finding someone else to do the work that I’m already doing well, and that I enjoy doing. And even if one client did make me an employee, I would not be able to accept the position. I just could not work regular business hours.

Lawmakers, please understand: I appreciate the sentiment behind this legislation, because there are many companies that do take advantage of independent contractors. (I used to work for one!) but S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) is not the answer. It would seriously curtail my ability to work at all.

Change management and communications consultant

Mary Barna

I’m a change management and communications consultant, which means I help clients all across the United States solve specific challenges related to changes they are implementing in their organizations. I work as an independent contractor myself, and I hire other independent contractors to provide specialized services such as graphic design, proofreading, website development and video production.

My choice to do this work as an independent contractor was careful and intentional. Previously, I was a partner in a large consulting company for many years. I worked long hours. When my mother became terminally ill, I thought a lot about how I wanted to spend my time, and I realized that I wanted to be able to choose my own clients, projects and hours. It took me 10 years to build the consulting business that I have now, and I love the work that I do, as well as the flexibility and control that I have over my own life.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I worry that I will lose my clients. With no clients, I have no business and no income. All the independent contractors that I hire would lose their income, too.

I will not go back to being a full-time employee. I chose years ago to pursue a different career path. Instead, I’ll move to Pennsylvania so I can continue operating my business.

Why the mere threat of S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becoming law is a problem for my business: I’m worried not only about what will happen if this legislation passes, but also about what’s happening now. Clients who hear about this legislation may sever the business that they do with New Jersey-based independent contractors just to be safe and avoid any legal issues or bad PR.

What I want lawmakers to do: Either vote no on S863 (formerly S4204/A5936), or update its language to reflect the realities of the modern-day workplace. Take care of gig economy workers who are being exploited, but don’t hurt professional independent contractors who are making a great living.

Sign language interpreter

Laura Seidelmann

I am a sign language interpreter. I mainly work for a school to help a fourth-grader, but during the summers when school is out, I work freelance on various interpreting jobs. All summer long, I choose the jobs that best match my schedule with my children, as well as their activities.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: I love everything about freelancing: making my own schedule, being my own boss, the flexibility. I never have to ask an employer if I can take a day off to go to my child’s school. I just don’t take a job that day. As a freelancer, I am in control.

What will happen if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I’m worried not only about how this legislation will affect my family financially, but I’m also worried about how it will affect my industry. The deaf community will be hurt. There are already so many jobs that go without interpreters that deaf people need, and this legislation would force even more deaf people to live without interpreters.

What I want lawmakers to do: Vote no on S863 (formerly S4204/A5936).

Writer

Lisa Yakomin

I got my start as a freelance writer when I was 20 years old, as a way to help me pay for college while I was a full-time student. After graduation, when I was a full-time salaried employee, I continued freelancing to make ends meet. As I grew older, being a freelance writer was the only way that I could afford to stay at home with my daughters after they were born. Freelancing gave me the flexibility to work on my own schedule. Being a freelancer also prevented me from having a gap on my resume once my children were older and I could return to a more steady work schedule.

I’ve had several full-time jobs during the past 32 years, but the one constant has always been my ability to freelance. Freelancing has given me peace of mind because I know that I can earn a living no matter what. When my father was dying, I had the flexibility I needed to go see him in the intensive care unit every day. I could be available when my children got sick and couldn’t go to school. I was able to miss a day of work without repercussions.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Companies that use independent contractors will choose not to work with those of us who live in New Jersey. It’s just too big a risk, and with the way the gig economy has exploded across the United States, they have plenty of choices.

What I want lawmakers to do: Devote the time and effort required to get this kind of legislation right, without unintended consequences like the ones we’re seeing unfold in California after a similar law was enacted there. If we’re not actually changing existing law in New Jersey, the way the sponsors of S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) claim, then what’s the rush?

Online ESL Teacher

Christina Crea

I love the flexibility of teaching English as a second language to students over the Internet. It allows me to do what I love and be present for my family.

How do I work? I log in at 4 a.m. and teach until it’s time to get my kids ready for school. I can teach one class a week or 50 classes a week, and I adjust my schedule to my family’s needs. If my kids are sick, I don’t have to stress about the consequences of taking time off care for them. If there are activities at my kids’ school, I am available to volunteer.

I can do all these things and work because I choose to be an independent contractor.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Our family will have major financial problems. My husband’s salary pays for our mortgage, and my income pays for just about everything else. My kids’ school district lost a significant amount of funding, so I also supplement their enrichment and extracurricular activities with my income.

I don’t know what we’ll do if I’m unable to keep working as an independent contractor. We may have to consider leaving the state.

What I want lawmakers to do: Stop looking only at the big fish involved. Look at all the countless industries and people like me that S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) will affect. You’re supposed to be fighting for us, not working against us.

Culinary researcher, Food media expert, Recipe developer and tester

Liz Tarpy

I do a variety of things in food media, including being a recipe developer, recipe tester, recipe editor and culinary researcher. The variety is one of the reasons I enjoy freelancing. One day, I could be developing recipes for a food brand in my home kitchen, and the next day, I could be assisting a food stylist for a video being filmed in a New York City studio or on location in New York or New Jersey. I also edit recipes for food media outlets, test recipes for cookbook authors and food TV shows, and work in various capacities for food TV shows.

The way I choose to work as an independent contractor is perfect for me. I am “allergic” to corporate settings. I prefer being independent and having freedom.

Working as a freelancer also gives me the flexibility I need to visit my mother, who is in an assisted living facility with dementia. Oftentimes, I take my work with me to do between visits with her, something that most full-time employers would not allow.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: My ability to find new clients, especially one-offs or clients that only need my services sporadically throughout the year, will be severely harmed. They’ll look to work with people like me in other states instead.

What I want New Jersey’s lawmakers to do: Please slow this legislation down and take the time to fully understand the impact it’s going to have on all kinds of people. Tell the truth: Until right now, did you even know that independent contractor work like mine exists?

Instructor, Writer

Tara Nurin

I’m a freelance journalist, author and adjunct instructor. When I’m writing, I primarily cover drinks, dining and destinations for publications like Forbes, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast and NJ Monthly. I specialize in beer and spirits, and I co-host a weekly beer TV show in South Jersey. I also teach a for-credit beer course at Wilmington University in Delaware, run a beer-events firm, and serve frequently as a beer expert, judge and speaker. I’m also publishing the world’s first comprehensive history of women and beer.

I love the flexibility to set my schedule, work from home and choose my assignments. Also: Have laptop, will travel.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: To my great dismay, I’ll be forced to move to Philadelphia. This is not an idle threat. I have a dear friend who just moved to Alaska from Los Angeles to avoid being punished by California’s version of this draconian bill. I won’t give up my freelance career, which brings me joy, flexibility and the ability to travel the globe to pursue stories. I’ll give up on New Jersey instead.

Lawmakers, please listen: Please stop dismissing our educated arguments that this will affect us. There is no chance this bill will serve its intended purpose in the media business. No entity is going to bring us on as employees in the current economic landscape … not that we even want to work full-time for one employer.

Online ESL Teacher, Teacher

Matthew Grogaard

Three years ago, my wife was laid off while on maternity leave with our first son. Then, we found out that we were expecting our second baby. This was quite a surprise after suffering infertility for years. With two kids younger than 2 years old, we knew we could not afford day care.

I decided to start teaching online weekdays and weekends, waking up at 4:30 every morning to teach English as a second language to children in China. Then, I go to my brick-and-mortar special education teaching job on the weekdays. I also teach online Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

How working as an independent contractor has changed my life: It has allowed my wife to stay home with our boys. Two years and a third baby later, I make enough money to support that lifestyle, and to keep our budget on track during the summers when school is not in session.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Our middle son has global apraxia, a neurological disorder that requires daily therapy. He would no longer be able to get that therapy because my wife would have to go back to work.

Additionally, his therapists are independent contractors too. We are terrified about losing them, as they are such a valuable part of our lives.

What I want lawmakers to do: Slow down and really examine what you are doing. There is no need to rush this legislation when it will affect so many working people in New Jersey.