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.
How S863 (formerly S4204/A5936) would affect people like me: This legislation will upend thousands of people in a variety of fields and professions. It will destroy our ability to pay our bills—our very livelihoods and careers. It will force many of us to flee this expensive state. It will corrode New Jersey’s economy.
What’s wrong with S863 (formerly S4204/A5936): This legislation ignores the complex realities of the gig economy today. It is punitive and ill-conceived beyond words. I am an older woman, and the unvarnished truth is that ageism exists in the workplace, and 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.