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.

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.

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).

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.

Online ESL Teacher

Kelly McCrea

Two years ago, my husband lost a job he had held for 12 years. Since then, he has been unable to secure a full-time job comparable to the pay he was earning. To help provide for our family, I began teaching 4- to 16-year-olds how to speak English through an online platform called VIPKid. I make my own hours, which means I can work in the very early mornings, leaving the rest of the day to focus, with my husband, on our other home-based business of online resale. I’m earning decent money, and I have the freedom to be a mom to my large family.

Why S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) worries me: The state of New Jersey is hard enough to live in. Property taxes alone have nearly sunk us since my husband’s departure from his full-time job. My online teaching income has kept food on our table and given me the opportunity to grow into a career field that I’m passionate about. Losing this job will not only be a catastrophic blow to our finances, but I will deeply regret losing the students I have grown to love.

What I want lawmakers to know: I understand that this legislation is intended to help exploited workers. That is a good and noble endeavor, but I am not exploited. The company I teach with has already stopped hiring California teachers since that state passed its own version of S863 (formerly S4204/A5936). The same thing will happen in New Jersey with all kinds of companies that work with independent contractors. The domino effect will be huge.

Why S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) must be stopped: Do we really want NJ residents to be exempt from jobs that they are well-qualified to do, that they want, and that they need? This law hurts women like me. Please don’t make it even harder on us to live and work here.

Did you know: The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 survey of workers showed that a whopping 79 percent of independent contractors wished to remain as independent contractors. Read the report for yourself. That is a very large majority. We shouldn’t be enacting a law that benefits the minority at the expense of the majority.

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.

Why I’m Worried: The company I contract to has already stopped hiring independent contractors in California, and they will not continue to hire independent contractors in New Jersey if this bill passes! My family will lose my income. My husband and I just bought our first house. We rely on my income to help pay our bills, including my student loans. 

What Lawmakers Need to Understand: S863 will cause thousands of New Jersey residents to lose their incomes. Many of the people who are independent contractors don’t have the option or want to be “employees.”

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 job 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.

Please allow for exceptions in S863 for online ESL teachers.

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 53 years old. 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?

How S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) is going to hurt me: The company I contract with has already announced that as of December 1, 2019, they will no longer be offering work to contractors who live in California because of similar legislation that was recently enacted there. If New Jersey passes this legislation, the company will make the same decision for those of us working from New Jersey. I will be unable to work and provide for my family. We will not be able to afford to continue to live here. We will be forced to relocate to a state with a lower cost of living.

What I want lawmakers to know: S863 (formerly S4204/A5936), as written, does not protect workers. It punishes those who are not able to work in a traditional work environment.

It hurts the ill, who would like to be productive members of society. It hurts single parents who are trying to support their families while raising their kids. It hurts people who are managing their children’s medical needs, or taking care of spouses or elderly parents. It hurts the middle-aged and older workers who are denied full-time employment.

The lawmakers trying to push this legislation through without meeting with the people they claim they are trying to protect should be ashamed of themselves. True representatives of the people would take their time when enacting legislation that will have an impact on us. 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.

As someone who has been a lifelong union supporter: I am here to tell you that this legislation is not protecting workers. At the very least, if you are going to insist on passing this legislation, then make an exemption so online teachers and tutors will not be classified as employees.

I vote, and I am watching.

Online ESL Teacher

Micayla Weber

I wake up early in the morning to teach English as a second language to children in China. This type of job is perfect for me because I am able to finish work before my own four children wake up. After work, I can have the rest of the day to home-school my children, and to bring them to their various sports and activities. One of my children is autistic, and my being home eliminates the need to have to pay for child care.

Why I’m so worried about S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): This bill will take away my income, which will take away my ability to pay for my children’s karate, gymnastics and various other activities. It will take away our vacation funds, and funds we spend on home-school field trips. As a home-school mom, I know these extracurricular activities are very important to my children’s development.

What I want lawmakers to know: Independent contractors like the freedoms we have to set our own schedules, and to be our own boss. We do not want to be employees. We are grown adults who have chosen this line of work. If we wanted a traditional job, we would have chosen one.