Who We Are

Video Editor

Eve Brue

Why I Freelance: I love the autonomy—I can choose or decline projects at will, and make my own hours. And, I earn more as a freelancer than I did as an employee. 

A lot of my freelance work allows me to work from home. I have autoimmune arthritis, so the lack of commute and flexibility of work hours allow me to better care for my health. 

Why being an independent contractor is better for me: I actually feel that I have more job security. As a freelancer, I’ve worked hard to build a network of contacts, and I’m never without work when I need it. (In fact, I sometimes have to turn it away.) Earlier in my career when I was an employee, I was laid off several times from staff jobs because TV shows weren’t renewed and the production company hadn’t launched a new show to replace it. As a freelancer who works for multiple clients, if a show ends, all of my proverbial eggs aren’t in that basket anyway. I’m much more agile and able to increase my workload with another client.

Why I’m Worried: S4204/A5936 will decimate my ability to make a living in New Jersey, as well as my husband’s. (We’re both freelance video editors.) The way S4204/A5936 is written, it will make it impossible for me to remain an independent contractor in New Jersey. The legislation says that people like me can never go to a client’s office. Not even once. On occasion, I do go to an office, whether to get on the same page creatively through some face-to-face time, or because there’s too much media/data to work remotely. 

I don’t think any of my clients would be willing to make me an employee—nor do I want to be their employee! My New York City-based clients will simply replace me with New York City-based freelancers. I work remotely for all of my non-New York City clients, so they’ll replace me with someone from anywhere else.

What Legislators Should Know: I love being a self-employed, independent contractor! Myself and many others choose to be freelancers. I understand that the bill has good intentions by curbing things like permalancing (where you “freelance” endlessly for only one client but without benefits.) 

However many of us are truly freelancing and benefitting greatly from it. (So is NJ, now that a good amount of my work is from home in NJ, I spend more money in NJ!) We just bought a house in District 11, and I hope to stay here. I will be heartbroken if this bill passes.

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.

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.

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.

If S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I will lose the financial benefits of my independent contractor work. I will be forced to become a full-time employee in the home-inspection business, and I’ll likely lose the office-type projects that are usually larger and more lucrative for people like me. I’ll end up making less money. How is that protecting workers?

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. Instead of writing a law that assumes we are all employees until proven otherwise, create an opt-out clause for independent contractors who have chosen this way of working, and who are not being exploited. I am not the same as a misclassified worker. We should not be in the same pool. People like me should have a way to opt out.

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.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: I will need to move out of New Jersey. My only other option would be to take a full-time job with one of my clients—but it would come with a 40 percent pay cut.

Please, kill this legislation!

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.

What will happen to me if S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) becomes law: Not only will I lose one-third of my income from this revenue stream, but several independent-contractor therapists who work with me will lose about one-third of their income, as well. They depend upon this additional outlet where I secure clients for them, to supplement their own practices. All of our families will be hurt.

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.

What I want lawmakers to know: If S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) passes, there would be little or no economic sustainability for thousands of New Jersey licensed massage therapists.

I do agree with your goal. We need a way to protect workers who are truly being exploited by larger companies. But this is not the way to do it. I’m not being exploited, and if this legislation passes, I’m literally out of business.

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.”