Wednesday February 21, 2018
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Update on NFM-Initiated National Coalition Request for DOL Clarification on "Reasonable Assurance" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Maria Maisto   

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.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 March 2017 23:51

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