Enough is Enough(edit)
To begin with, the bit about preparation and planning seems a tad strained to me. I do not prepare ahead of time for lessons because not only are we not paid to, we are "encouraged" not to. I can understand and appreciate however that someone new to teaching and/or the company honestly does not feel prepared without spending a certain amount of time reviewing the lessons before teaching. This amount of time needed should lessen with time, or perhaps veteran teachers should try and assist the newer teachers how to prepare in a more generalized manner. For example, it is completely possible for me to spend around 5 minutes thinking of extra questions/activities for the day's topic that I can modify to suit a variety of levels and class sizes. Often this preparation consists of simply having google images open to pictures relating to the day's topic. But, I digress. Although I feel this is stretching things, I DO think OE should compensate newer teachers especially for their prep time. While this is unlikely to happen as it would be terrible to track, it would be well worth their while to simply increase pay a small amount to help account for some of this preparation time.
Now, on to the issue that I believe is the MAIN issue we should all be talking about here because it is the clearest cut: taxes. Wow, where do I begin. I encourage everyone to make their own decision regarding this, but I feel all one needs to do is take a quick visit to the IRS page to see that we overwhelmingly sound more like employees than independent contractors. Issues like, "must be available for certain times (this one is huge and definitely moved into employee territory when they told us we HAVE to be available during peak hours as independent contractors often set their own times/schedules)," "pay scale is set in stone," "told to adhere to company policies," "repeatedly evaluated according to a certain set of guidelines," are ALL things that apply to employees rather than independent contractors. While I don't think OE is the only company that has ever done this, it is still illegal and they should be called on it. If we don't report this and make a big fuss, it will continue to go on under the nose of the IRS and at our own expense. If we are to truly be independent contractors, then so be it, but I, for one, would appreciate them to then TREAT us like independent contractors (not actually requiring a set amount of hours, available times, etc.).
The issue with job security is another mess. Even though we are employees, because they classify us as independent contractors they can terminate us at will and for no real reason with no consequences. I too am concerned for all the new teachers who were just brought on who are consistently getting ZERO hours (not meager hours, no hours), and who can't even get tons of work elsewhere because they are sitting around "having to be available" for at least 20 hours during peak hours. I cannot imagine the strain this is putting on them. I don't know if it is illegal (most likely not), but it IS highly unethical to keep people tethered to a string like that and then not provide them any hours. If there are no hours, there are no hours, but then allow those teachers to red out their schedule for the time being so they can at least go look for other work.
I for one am fed up with these issues and in light of the LP2 disasters and obvious decrease in not only employee well-being but student well-being (where is the director of happiness now, OE), I find myself indignant enough to begin saying something (anonymously for now). When I am at a point where I can leave the company if need be, I am reporting them to the IRS and will be prepared to be terminated not long after they find out under the guide of repeated RIA's during the platform change or something that wasn't a big enough issue to fire me at the time, but they will use to get rid of me.
Lastly, a word of warning. I personally know of at least two individuals who have been terminated not long after either 1) speaking their mind about ethical concerns on Jive, or 2) reporting OE to the IRS. Both individuals were terminated almost immediately after these occurrences and were treated quite unfairly. One was even threatened with a libel lawsuit from OE if she dared to "tell everyone" what they'd done. I say this for two reasons: the first being to be careful what you say and to whom you speak, the second being that OE is not the happy, nice, friendly company that they've led us to believe. They deal underhandedly with the law and with their employees and with their students. It's time we stand up and stop it.