Magazine article Academe

Access to Unemployment Benefits

Magazine article Academe

Access to Unemployment Benefits

Article excerpt

More than half of U.S. faculty members now work in one or more part-time appointments, generally on a semester-by-semester basis. Many more, both full- and parttime non-tenure-track faculty members, hold renewable academic-year appointments. Those serving in contingent appointments often do not know until a semester actually begins whether they will have a job for that semester and do not know in May whether they can expect to be employed at the same institution in the fall. For these teachers, summer and winter breaks are periods of unemployment.

This instability of employment is exacerbated in the current economic climate as colleges and universities cut costs through reducing their commitments to those in contingent positions. Joe Berry, chair of the Chicago Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor and a member of the AAUP's Committee on Contingency and the Profession, notes, "If that were not enough, our employers persist in wrongly asserting that we have 'reasonable assurance' of reemployment in order to save themselves the cost of increased unemployment insurance premiums." Federal law requires all education employees to demonstrate that they do not have "reasonable assurance of reemployment" in order to be eligible for benefits, a hurdle that other employees do not have to surmount.

The AAUP holds that unemployed faculty members, like other workers, are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. That is why it supports the National Unemployment Compensation Initiative. …

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