Content strategist, Editor, Writer

Ellen Sheng

I’m a freelance writer, editor and content strategist. I love the flexibility of the way I choose to work. I can take on assignments that interest me and turn down ones that don’t (or that don’t pay well). I can make my own schedule. I can also advance my career while caring for my two young children. As a freelancer, I am able to have the kind of work/life balance that suits me and my family.

Why I’m worried about S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): If this legislation becomes law, then more and more companies will discriminate against New Jersey-based independent contractors. This kind of discrimination would devastate my business and my family, who depend on my income.

What I want lawmakers to do: Please slow down and take time to consider the unintended consequences of this bill.

Online ESL Teacher

Lisa Rosenhouse

I am a New Jersey state-licensed teacher who, after having my three children, wanted to find a work/home life balance, maintain autonomy and provide for my family finically.

I found all of that by working online, teaching English as a second language to students in China. I love this work. I get to use both of my degrees (undergrad in anthropology, and a master’s in childhood education). I set my own hours and schedules. The income lets me provide for my family and helped us to purchase our own house.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Without my income, my family would have to look into social welfare programs and possibly even sell our house to move to neighboring Delaware.

What I want lawmakers to do: Vote no. Find a better way to solve the worker misclassification problem so that you don’t hurt people like me in the process.

Online ESL Teacher

Katie Yaniak

Hours before I’d truly like to wake up, and while my family is still comfortably (and quietly!) sleeping, my feet hit the floor with a few minutes until class time. As an online teacher of English as a second language, I have students in a completely different time zone. That means that I am able to get most of my day’s work finished before my family begins to stir. I work for three hours each morning, six days a week.

I then spend the rest of the day homeschooling my four children and running our household. Being an independent contractor enables me to be home with my children without sacrificing financial stability. It lets me take them to their extracurricular activities and see their performances. It means I don’t have to call out of work when a child is sick and needs me to stay home.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Our spending would need to be restricted, including for things like regular dental checkups and fixing the laundry-room plumbing. This bill will make me too risky to contract with, or perhaps even outright illegal to contract with. I will lose my income and will potentially have no way to replace it because so many other people will suddenly be in the same position, scrambling all at once for full-time jobs so we can afford food, clothes and shelter.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: There is no job more perfectly suited to what my family needs than what I have at this very moment. There are no benefits that a full-time job would offer me that would outweigh the benefits I already have.

What I want lawmakers to do: Reconsider. Slow down. So many things said by the people trying to pass S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) just don’t make any sense, not even to some of the very lawmakers who have approved it to move to the next stage.

Protecting truly misclassified workers is commendable. Taking away the freedoms of the majority of others who are not misclassified is not the way to do it. This is not a simple, square peg in a square hole issue.

Do not legislate away my freedom to provide financial security to my family. Vote no on S863 (formerly S4204/A5936).

Editor, Writer

Diane M. Byrne

I’m the owner of RedHedInk LLC, which provides freelance writing and editing services. Magazines and websites hire me to write and edit based on my more than 20 years of experience, and I commission freelance articles and other freelance content for another company, Superyacht Storytellers LLC, which I co-own.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: It affords me the freedom (including financial freedom) that I did not have in the corporate world. I left my job as a full-time magazine staff editor in August 2008. Less than one month later, that same magazine eliminated one-third of the editorial staff, including the editor who had taken my place, in a cost-cutting move. That would have been me if I had stayed, and given that the recession was just starting to take hold, decimating newsrooms and magazine offices, it would have been challenging at best to find a full-time replacement job. As a freelancer, I have a rotating roster of clients who actually make me feel more financially secure than I would back in the full-time workforce.

Furthermore, as an independent business owner and co-owner, I rely on independent contractors to provide writing, photography, website design, troubleshooting and graphic design services, among others. My businesses do not require rosters of full-time employees, nor can they afford to bring on full-time employees.

What will happen if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: It will put me out of business. Period.

Lawmakers need to realize: You are not only about to destroy the careers and personal lives of those of us who choose to be independent contractors, but you also are acting in complete ignorance of common sense. The federal government, via the IRS, has had a longstanding checklist to use in evaluating who’s an employee and who’s an independent contractor. There was, and remains, no need for the ABC test that is written into S863 (formerly S4204/A5936), or for “codifying” that test (as Senator Steve Sweeney is so fond of saying).

For proof, look at all of the exemptions you and your fellow legislators are making for real estate professionals, accountants, travel agents and more. If none of us had any reason to be concerned, then why would all of these exemptions exist?

What I want lawmakers to do: The right thing. Toss out this poorly written legislation and go back to the drawing board with the IRS regulations. Equally important: Stop rushing this legislation through. The sense of urgency is completely manufactured.

Online ESL Teacher

Amanda Fredericks

I love my job teaching English as a second language online with VIPKid. It has allowed me to connect with children across the world, build strong relationships with people of other cultures, and give me a sense of pride and confidence about my teaching abilities. I would be devastated to lose this job.

Believe me, I know that it’s not for everybody. I wake up at 4 a.m. and teach from 4:30 a.m. until 8 am. I work Monday through Saturday, and I often work Friday or Saturday nights from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. For me, it’s a great situation. It pays well and allows me to homeschool my children.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Without this job, I would lose my family’s second income, which we need to make ends meet. I am grateful to have this job. I am happy to be an independent contractor. I do not need health benefits, insurance or overtime. My family is covered through my husband’s insurance.

What I want lawmakers to know: Leave those of us who choose to be independent contractors alone. I am a taxpaying and hard-working citizen. This bill will not only destroy my family, but it will destroy many, many more. No one will be able to afford to pay their bills.

Creative director, Direct response copy writer

Donna Doyle

I have been freelancing for almost 20 years. I’m a direct response copy writer and creative director, which means that I work on email campaigns, landing pages, blog posts, direct mail sales letters and website copy. My clients are companies in the natural health and vitamin industry.

My favorite part of being an independent contractor is the versatility. My career not only pays me quite well, but it also allowed me to work at home and be around to raise my daughter. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: My business will be considerably curtailed. One client pays me close to $60,000 in billings every year. Another pays me more than $40,000. My clients will either give me much less work or use other writers so that they don’t have to deal with the new legal hassles of working with a writer in New Jersey.

Please respect my many years of hard work: I have spent 20 years building up my client base. I do not want to see my hard-earned income and career suffer because lawmakers don’t understand how independent contractors work. That’s what is currently happening in California because of its version of S863 (formerly S4204), and I’ll end up like people in that state: forced to sell my house and move out of New Jersey, away from my 88-year-old mother and the rest of my family. I will have no choice.

What I want lawmakers to know: S863 (formerly S4204) will take away the career and livelihood that I have spent two decades of my life creating. I’m a success story. Please don’t turn my life into a tragedy. Kill S863.

Band leader, Musician

Bradley Madsen

As a musician and band leader, sometimes I have no gigs, but will be contracting musicians for upcoming work. Other times, I have multiple gigs at various sites in the tristate area (my record is four gigs in one day, leaving before 7 a.m. and returning at 2 a.m.).

Why I like being an independent contractor: I can make a living playing. There are very, very few organizations that have the amount of work necessary to employ a musician full-time. The vast majority of highly successful music companies have enough work to employ musicians part-time. If I were employed by one office exclusively, I’d be working part-time, and not enough to qualify for any sort of health and retirement benefits.

How S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) will affect me: My career will be devastated by this bill. Some jobs will continue, but the vast majority will not be able to shoulder the increased costs of going W2 and will go away.

What I want lawmakers to know: Without understanding how various industries work, you can’t effectively judge whether this bill should apply to those industries. You need to talk to lots of people in lots of industries that consist of mostly independent contractors to understand why they want to be independent contractors. If they don’t want to be independent contractors, then you know it’s an industry that needs regulation in order to force a switch.

But I’m not those people. I’ve built my entire life and career around being an independent contractor. In mere weeks, you could devastate my livelihood, making the very foundation of my family’s life in New Jersey unstable and possibly forcing us to relocate in order to survive.

If this legislation passes, I can honestly say I do not know what I will do to pay my bills.

Writer

Laurie Tarkan

I’m a longtime freelance journalist who has written regularly for The New York Times, many women’s and consumer magazines, and tons of websites. I became a freelance writer because most magazine articles were outsourced to freelancers rather than being written in-house by employees. When my kids were born, writing as a freelancer became a perfect way to balance work and family while reducing child-care costs.

One of my children has suffered from chronic migraines, and it has been extremely helpful for me to be available at home during the day. She had to miss many, many days of school, and it would have been hard to manage that situation had I been working in New York City at a full-time job.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Having been out of the traditional workplace for many years, it would be incredibly difficult for me to get an on-staff job. I know because I’ve tried. Employers are afraid to take a risk on hiring a freelancer, despite my depth of experience. And I wouldn’t want a staff job anyway: The ones that are available pay only about two-thirds of my current income as an independent contractor.

I am a divorced mother of two children, with one in college and the other soon to be in college, and there is no way that I could support our financial needs without my work.

What I want lawmakers to know: You are hurting older women, single women, and those caring for children. You are failing to recognize that these types of laws hurt small business owners who spent a lifetime building a reputation and a business, and who are choosing to bank on themselves to succeed.

What you are doing to freelance journalists is akin to closing a well-known, successful restaurant and telling the owner to go get a job somewhere else.

Writer

Lisa Fields

I’m a freelance writer who focuses on health, nutrition, fitness and psychology content. I’ve done this work for more than 13 years. I write articles for traditional journalistic publications, as well as related content for companies. I start my day a little before 9 a.m., after my son gets on the school bus, and I work until 3 p.m., when my daughter gets home from school. I then spend some time with my kids (driving them to activities, helping them with homework) and work a few more hours in the evening, after they go to bed.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: I’m a single mom, and the freelance lifestyle allows me to be present for my children. I can write at noon or midnight, and nobody cares as long as I meet my deadlines (which I always do).

My career choice has recently been lumped in with the gig economy, the buzzy term that’s been used to describe anyone who does work as an independent contractor. But my career predates all of the current buzz about side hustles and gig workers. It’s a model that works for me and allows me to single-handedly support my household.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) is enacted: The way the bill was written originally, I would have been put out of business, and I have no other income. Other independent contractors have said that they would be forced to move out of New Jersey, but my children’s father lives nearby, and they see him often. I would be forced to find full-time employment, which would be less than ideal. I wouldn’t earn as much money. I would miss the flexibility to be present for my children. And my children would miss my presence.

What I want lawmakers to do: Please consider shelving this bill altogether, since it will affect the lives of thousands upon thousands of independent contractors who are not the intended target. If you do decide to move forward, then please choose your words very carefully, so that they do not have unintended consequences.

I’ve worked hard to establish myself during the past decade-plus, and I am well regarded in my field. It would be tragic if I were forced to abandon my business model because of this legislation.

Executive, leadership and life coach

Julie Ketover

I chose the entrepreneurial path after many years of working in the legal industry, as a lawyer and business professional. After having my second child, I grew weary of my full-time corporate job and began to think about ways in which I could do work I loved, make money and balance the demands of parenting and maintaining a household.

Gradually, I shed the remaining vestiges of legal work. Today, I am an executive, leadership and life coach. In the past six months, I have worked on my own business-building efforts in my private practice and have taken on independent contractor work with multiple employers.

I relish the flexibility of this professional path I’ve chosen. It enables me to make my own schedule, take care of my children and be there for them as they grow up. It also allows me not to be solely responsible for client generation.

Why I’m worried about S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): I choose to work as an independent contractor, and my revenue streams could disappear, harming my family. Many of the people whose lives would be hurt have chosen the freelance path for personal reasons. We want to be independent contractors. Many of us are working moms.

What lawmakers need to know: The legislative intent of S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) is to ensure that workers are properly classified. I understand that a malfeasance likely needs to be addressed, but I don’t see why a person in my situation should be caught in the crosshairs. The sweeping nature of the language in these bills is overly restrictive and threatens the livelihoods and choices of so many people in this state.

Be reasonable. Be deliberate. Be thoughtful. If legislation is truly needed, then craft it to address the wrong—but to go no further.