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.

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.