Furniture assembly, Residential home inspector

Adam Tate

I own a furniture assembly business and work as a residential home inspector. I enjoy being an independent contractor in these lines of work because I have lots of flexibility with my time and income.

What I want lawmakers to know: I think that legislation to help exploited, misclassified workers is great, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Don’t assume that we are all employees until proven otherwise. I am not the same as a misclassified worker. We should not be in the same pool.

Grant writer, Medical education writer, Professor

Patricia Gellasch

I was a bedside nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit. I continued my education and became a family nurse practitioner. From there, I decided to branch out and get involved in medical education, writing grants and CME/CE content. I worked full-time for a company, traveling more than three hours a day to its office in North Jersey. That got old. I returned to clinical practice and started freelancing a little each month in the CME/CE industry.

When I had my second child, I decided to focus just on freelancing and working only one day per week in clinical practice. The choice gave me the flexibility to be at home with my two children. I slowly built a business that started out grossing $12,000 per year in 2009. Today, I earn six figures.

And, to make sure I never had to go back to clinical practice, I pursued my Ph.D. in nursing education and research. I also work adjunct at The College of New Jersey as a professor, but I can’t do that full time because I won’t make enough money to support my family.

Why I want to remain an independent contractor: I enjoy the freedom. I am a mom of two kids and need the autonomy. I also have an illness, and this type of work helps me maintain full-time employment on my own time.

Massage therapist

Dana Watson

While I am fortunate to have secured part-time employment as a massage therapist with a hospice organization, it is not enough to sustain a living on its own. I rely on private elder clients, and I earn additional revenue through my company, Relative Touch, where I hire other independent-contractor therapists who are skilled in this massage niche. I pay them more than I pay myself.

Why I prefer to be an independent contractor: Viable employment opportunities in the massage industry are rare. When available, the jobs are provided by corporate chains where therapists are overworked and severely underpaid, leading to an average of minimum wage at best. I can earn a better living by remaining an independent contractor and being my own boss. I can also do better work than offering cookie-cutter McMassages.

Online ESL Teacher

Moira Larrea

Why I’m an Independent Contractor: Every morning, Monday through Saturday, I get up before dawn to connect with and teach English to children in China, through an online app. I teach up to six 25-minute classes each morning. I’ve been doing this for two years and I love it. It’s my dream job.

I choose to be an independent contractor for several reasons. I like the flexibility of choosing my own schedule and the ability to work from home with no long commute. My hourly pay rate is better as an independent contractor than it was as a salaried employee.  

It’s also better for my health and well-being. I have chronic Lyme disease, which comes with chronic pain, lowered immunity, and fatigue. At my salaried, brick and mortar job, because of limited sick time,  I was forced to go to work when I was ill. I would end up being treated for bronchitis multiple times a year and had severe asthma flare ups. Because I work shorter hours from home, when the fatigue from my illness overcomes me, I have the flexibility to get the rest my body needs. My hours and flexible schedule also allows me to focus on caring for my family and home. Because I only work three hours in the mornings, I have the energy to keep my home in order.

Many of the people who are independent contractors don’t have the option or want to be “employees.”

Interpreter

Hector Reyes

I’m retired from law enforcement, and now I work as an interpreter. Various agencies hire me for jobs that last anywhere from one to eight hours.

I enjoy this work, because it lets me have more time to spend with my family. I need to make more money than my pension affords me, as I have just finished putting two sons through college and have another one who is a junior in college. This work allows me to make more money than a regular job would, while at the same time it gives me the flexibility to spend more time with my family than my previous job ever allowed me to do.

What I want lawmakers to know: You appear to be trying to protect some workers, but in attempting to do so, you are destroying the livelihoods of many others.

Public relations professional

Amy Losak

I’ve worked as a public relations professional for decades. I specialize in health-care media relations, but I’ve done media relations in a variety of sectors and industries. My job is to get my clients into the press. I help them shape, craft and pitch their messages and stories to journalists.

I’ve always worked in New York City public-relations firms, but in early 2017, I was laid off along with a number of colleagues. I hoped to get another full- or part-time staff position commensurate with my decades of knowledge and experience. I thought of freelancing as a stopgap, a bridge to my next staff role.

I soon came to realize how difficult finding a new job was going to be, as an older woman. Over time, I have come to prefer freelancing. While there are trade-offs and disadvantages (my income is less; assignments are irregular and unpredictable), I like the flexibility and autonomy of my current situation. I have more time and stamina to work on projects that I find rewarding, and where I feel I can make a difference. I can reject projects that I don’t like. I no longer have to deal with a horrendously stressful two-way commute that is, frankly, hellish beyond words. I am mostly free now of company politics, bureaucracies and insane client demands that have eaten into my precious personal time and caused me to lose sleep. I have a home life now.

I don’t know what I will do if I can’t earn a decent living to pay my outrageously high property taxes and other bills, and to save for my and my husband’s futures.

We matter. We count. Please don’t rip away our desire, need and ability to work productively and gainfully, and to provide for ourselves and our families.

Online ESL Teacher

Jessica Ramos

I’m an online English as a second language teacher. I wake up at 3 a.m., and I teach from about 3:30 until 8 a.m.

While some people might find that schedule ridiculous, for me, it’s terrific. Traditional employment does not work for my family. I suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome and chronic depression, and my youngest child has cerebral palsy and other medical issues. She is sick a lot and stays home from school.

This work has allowed me to teach, as I have always wanted to do. It also allows me to care for my family, and it has contributed greatly to the medical expenses that insurance does not cover.

Church choir director, Editor, Virtual assistant

Susan Schneider

My freelance jobs are varied. I work as a virtual assistant, transcribing interviews for medical-device journalists, and I’m a church choir director. I also do some word processing and editing.

I have metastatic breast cancer and would find it impossible to work in an office. Making my own hours and working at home is the only viable way for me to function. I am also 63 years old, and no company is going to hire me, other than on a consulting basis.

My husband also has a business that functions as a consultant to a large company, and he is paid commission only. They would not take on the extra expense of hiring him. We literally would lose our home and our health insurance if our businesses were no longer viable.

Content strategist, Editor, Writer

Brittany Risher

I’m a freelance content strategist, editor, and writer specializing in health and wellness content. I do a combination of writing and editing for publications and websites, as well as for brands (usually on their blogs). I also create and manage the editorial strategy for websites and brands, which means managing their editorial calendars, assigning freelance writers, editing and loading content, analyzing the performance of content, and refining the strategy accordingly.

Why I’m a freelancer: First, let me be clear about something: I chose to go freelance. I left my last full-time job of my own will. I wanted to be able to do a variety of work rather than just one thing. I also needed the flexibility to be able to manage a long-term eating disorder and see my doctor, therapist and dietitian. (I’m very happy to report that, in part because of the flexibility freelancing gives me, I am the healthiest I have been in more than 20 years.)

Another reason I’m freelance is that, despite the constant hustle and paying for my own health insurance and having no employer 401(k) plan, I make more money. This allows me to save more for my future family.

Going freelance simply made me happier and reduced my anxiety incredibly.

What I want lawmakers to know: Please allow people like me — people who choose to freelance — to do the work that we want to do. I’ve already heard way too many stories from freelance journalists in California, where similar legislation recently passed, about how nobody will hire them now. This could happen to me and my colleagues in New Jersey.

Shouldn’t everyone be able to live the life they want to live? Please do not keep us from living out our dreams.

Online ESL Teacher

Kathy Wilder Bichler

I’m an online teacher of English as a second language for children who are 4 to 16 years old in China. I contract with a company called VIPKid. The company provides the online platform, the curriculum and the students. I choose the times I teach and how I will teach the curriculum. My day starts at 3 a.m. and ends at 8:30 a.m.

There are multiple reasons why working this way is important to me. First and foremost is that I am the caretaker for my disabled husband. The hours that I work are outside of normal business hours in the United States, which means I can take my husband to the doctor as needed without having to worry about taking too much time off from work for personal needs.

I also like this work because Social Security disability payments are not enough to live on. I need to bring in whatever income I can to assist with our basic needs: food, clothes, lodging, medical expenses, college tuition for our children, utilities, car expenses, health insurance, home maintenance and more.

And, I should add, I am older than 50. Ageism is real. Who is going to hire me to do anything else that will allow me to live my life and help my husband?

What I want lawmakers to know: Anti-independent contractor laws punish those who are not able to work in a traditional work environment. These laws hurt the ill, who would like to be productive members of society. They hurt single parents who are trying to support their families while raising their kids. They hurt people who are managing their children’s medical needs, or taking care of spouses or elderly parents. They hurt the middle-aged and older workers who are denied full-time employment.

Lawmakers trying to push these policies through without meeting with the people they claim they are trying to protect should be ashamed of themselves. Real representatives would learn from the awful fallout that California is experiencing since passing similar legislation. Lawmakers who actually care would meet with the people, and listen.

I vote, and I am watching.