Who We Are

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.

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.

Writer

Christine Duval

I work as a freelance copywriter predominantly for the real estate industry. I am also a published author of two young adult novels. I am a single mother of two teenagers. I work from home unless I am meeting real estate clients at listing appointments. This flexibility has allowed me to make raising my kids a top priority.

I enjoy the autonomy of freelancing. My daughter has epilepsy and it has afforded me the opportunity to be present for her neurology appointments and manage her seizures. It also allows me to work at home and work at all hours of the day. My best writing is first thing in the morning before anyone has woken up. If I had to go into an office and write on demand, I don’t think I’d be as productive as I am at 5 am in a quiet house. Working as a freelance writer actually makes me better at what I do.

Why I’m Worried: This will be the nail in the coffin of my business. Real estate companies outsource most of their business. They just aren’t in a position to bring on writers, floor planners, photographers, etc., as full-time employees when their business fluctuates from year to year. I fear they will just tell their agents to write their own copy and bios and I will have to find another line of work.

What Legislators Need to Know: I think they need to re-evaluate the wording of the bill. I am all for workers’ rights but this is crushing the ability of entrepreneurs and creatives to work in the state. New Jersey is already an incredibly expensive place to live in. I pay exorbitant property taxes. I pay high income taxes. The state is already experiencing “flight” by people who just cannot afford to be here anymore. If they take away my ability to make a living, I won’t be able to stay either. It’s really a shame because I like living here and my son has 3 years left of high school. Creative work is by nature freelance work. It’s project work. It varies year to year. And that is what makes it exciting for entrepreneurs like me. Please rework the wording of the bill to allow people like me in the “gig economy” as it is called to continue to work autonomously.

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.