//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political1.jpg If you are a college teacher without a continuing contract, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation between academic terms. Check with your state agency to see if you qualify.
//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political2.jpg Applying for unemployment compensation in your state may be as simple as completing an automated telephone application or an online form. If you have a union, ask for guidance they may have that is tailored to your state. Consider joining with other eligible colleagues for a “filing party” to which you can invite an expert to answer questions as you file.
//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political3.jpg Be sure to follow all rules governing your claim, including demonstrating that you are applying for work. OR. . . .
//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political4.jpg Many states may initially determine that you are eligible and then deny your claim, after contacting the institution. If you are denied, check carefully to ascertain the reason. Don’t be surprised if the college claims you have “reasonable assurance of re-employment.” You can contest it.
//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political5.jpg Help us to gather statistics on rates of approval and denial by telling us about your experience. Whether you are granted or denied unemployment compensation, your information will provide us with data that we can use to ensure that the legal rights of adjunct and contingent faculty are protected.
//unemploymentforadjuncts.com/campaign/templates/political/images/political6.jpg Whether you collect, are denied, or are ineligible, let your state agency and legislators know that the “reasonable assurance of re-employment” clause in federal unemployment law should not ever be applied to faculty who are denied continuing contracts!
The DOL’s just-released Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 05-17 provides long-overdue guidance to address the new reality of contingent academic employment in higher education. New Faculty Majority and the NFM Foundation have been at the for
Highlights of the letter include: acknowledgment of the inconsistent application of the law in many states and clarification that unemployment cannot be denied if the adjunct’s “economic conditions” in the second term or year are “considerably less than those of the first academic year or term.” State agencies must investigate, and most significant, unemployment insurance cannot be denied as long as there exist contingencies “within the employer’s control.” Contingencies within the employer’s control can include decisions about funding in addition to standard practices such as assignments based on programming and administrative discretion.
In advocating for the issuance of this letter, NFM has built on the groundbreaking work of AFT union members and staff in California and Washington who helped win the landmark 1989 Cervisi legal decision and the Washington state statute; of Joe Berry, Helena Worthen, and Beverly Stewart, who wrote a 2008 guide for adjuncts applying for unemployment, and their colleague Frank Brooks; and activists like Jack Longmate and our late colleague Steve Street. Around the country adjuncts have worked to change their state laws to strengthen adjunct access to unemployment and we hope this guidance letter will be helpful to them in their state efforts.
NFM was proud to lead the effort to inform the DOL of the need for this updated letter after we uncovered the 1986 version and proposed requesting its update. We were grateful to collaborate with AFT, NEA, SEIU, AAUP, UAW, USW, and especially adjunct leaders and staff within the unions, on this project. The work we all did together was a wonderful example of what we can accomplish with mutual respect, determination, and solidarity.
We will provide more detailed discussion of the letter in the coming weeks. But the true test of the new guidance will be how it is implemented. Commit to filing this spring!
In 2012, New Faculty Majority originated a project to request clarification of the Employment and Training Administration's guidance to state employment security agencies on "reasonable assurance of employment" for contingent employees in higher education. After discovering and doing research on the 1986 UIPL, consulting with the National Employment Law Project, and analyzing the data we had collected as part of our national initiative on unemployment compensation for contingent faculty, we informed national contingent faculty leaders of the advisability of requesting an update to the guidance letter.
In 2012, Judy Olson, a founding board member of NFM who has long chaired the Contingent Faculty Caucus within the NEA, wrote the original draft of the proposed revisions to UIPL 04-87 that forms the basis of the letter you received June 24th. Judy and other contingent faculty leaders in national unions and other organizations, in turn, secured the commitment of their organizations and unions to make the proposal and to encourage additional unions and organizations to join the coalition we convened to work on this project.
Along with colleagues from SEIU, NFM's president Maria Maisto met with then-Undersecretary Jane Oates in 2012 to discuss the proposal, which was, overall, favorably received. DOL officials indicated that it would be important to see union consensus on this issue, which the unions readily demonstrated. However, with personnel changes imminent in the Department, the effort stalled until Oates's replacement, Portia Wu, was named.
In 2014 the coalition regrouped to make a second request for a UIPL to DOL, this time to Undersecretary Wu. In October 2014 representatives of the coalition, including NFM's Maisto, met with Undersecretary Wu and her staff. Data from NFM's Unemployment Compensation Initiative were a critical piece of the evidence presented to the Secretary of the need to guarantee contingent faculty access to unemployment as long as they do not have authentic continuing contracts.
Resistance to the issuance of the UIPL seems to be grounded in a misunderstanding of the legality of (or perhaps outright opposition to) the probable effects of such guidance. In December 2014 the coalition sent a follow-up letter refuting the arguments made in opposition to the suggestion of a new UIPL and asking for further clarification of any objections to it.
by Steve Street
My school's fall appointment letters, issued the preceding spring, read "This offer is ... conditioned upon a sufficient number of students enrolling in the course...," making the contract clearly speculative, to an adjunct's life and mind. And in the summer of 2009, the first time I'd thought to apply for UI payments after 15 years of working on such contracts, the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Division seemed to agree.
Good. Keep it simple.
When we got in the judge's room I could see why: overworked like the rest of us, he seemed to be reading many of my documents closely for the first time, including the letter in which I requested a hearing, which detailed my claim from the start. My file had been compiled by several people in several branches of the Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance Division, each of them apparently glancing through and adding this or that memo that seemed to shore up the denial of my claim.
“Surviving an Unemployment Hearing”
By Jessica Burke, Adjunct Lecturer, Dept of English, The College of Staten Island.
Claiming unemployment between semesters takes gumption and guts. So if you don’t want a hassle or don’t feel up to challenging the system, I’d say don’t do it. But, for everyone else, here’s my story.
The information on this website is not intended to serve as legal advice. Any information on this website or otherwise promulgated by NFM's directors, members, advisors, or contributors should not be relied upon as legal advice and, despite our best efforts, cannot be warrantied as current or accurate. Please seek legal counsel from the provider of your choice.
Read the January 10 2017 story in Inside Higher Ed
Read the January 9, 2017 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education
Read the July 15, 2015 story in Inside Higher Ed
Read the June 20, 2010 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription only)
Read the May 24, 2010 Press Release.
Read the May 24, 2010 story in the Chronicle of Higher Education.