Gaining Access to Unemployment Insurance

By Stewart, Beverly | Academe, November/December 2008 | Go to article overview

Gaining Access to Unemployment Insurance


Stewart, Beverly, Academe


The system is stacked against contingents, but these strategies can help.

In some states, contingent faculty routinely receive unemployment compensation between semesters. In California, contingents owe that benefit to the decision in the hard-fought 1989 case Cervisi v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. In other states, such as Illinois, unemployment benefits are awarded on a case-by-case basis; some contingent faculty receive them and others do not, depending on the case and how vigorously an institution challenges a claim. In yet other states, filing for unemployment can result not only in a denial of benefits but also in the loss of a job.

The ability of contingent academic laborers to secure unemployment benefits depends on how the concept of "reasonable assurance" is interpreted, that is, does an applicant have reasonable assurance of being hired the next semester? That standard was set in the 1970s, when the Social Security Act was expanded to make public employees, including teachers, eligible to receive unemployment. Legislators did not, however, want full-time teachers to apply for unemployment during summer breaks unless they could prove that they had no reasonable assurance of employment in the fall. This standard still applies. So today, now that contingents represent more than half of the higher education teaching force, countless faculty members who have no reasonable assurance of employment for the next semester must demonstrate that fact to receive unemployment benefits. What constitutes proof varies from state to state, and the burden of proving a negative falls on individual instructors should their institutions challenge their claims.

Using contingent faculty gives colleges and universities scheduling flexibility, and the lack of obligation to offer benefits to contingents saves them much money. I contend that, in return for this shirking of responsibility, institutions of higher education should provide the merest unemployment insurance benefit to its contingent labor force. The economic lives of contingent faculty members can be devastated by the loss of a single class, and the wage gap they experience between semesters causes them great financial strain. For that reason, I worked with Joe Berry and Helena Worthen of the University of Illinois' Labor Education Program to write Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Contingent Faculty: A Manual for Applicants anda Strategy to Gain Full Rights to Benefits. The three of us are working with other activists to win that right for all contingent academics, beginning in our home state of Illinois (see sidebar).

Tips for Getting Benefits

What follows is a summary of strategies that contingent academics or their local and state unions might follow in seeking unemployment benefits for contingents.

Step 1. Read our manual, cited above, and do not overlook the appendix, which summarizes by state the realities reported by activists (unfortunately, information is not available from all states).

Step 2. Subscribe to the ADJ-L Listserv of the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor, where you will find a community of activists spanning the North American continent. To subscribe, go to http//adj-l.org/mailman/listinfo/adj-l_adj-l.org. Listserv participants can answer your questions about filing for benefits and introduce you to local activists or unions that may be working on this issue in your state.

Some states uphold institutional decisions to dismiss or not re-employ those who seek benefits. Checking with Listserv participants is a useful way to determine whether you are in one of those states. The National Education Association offers legal support to members who live in such states who lose their jobs for filing claims.

Step 3. Go to the agency in your state that handles unemployment insurance to obtain claim forms and filing rules. Although each state handles unemployment differently, the general application process may be similar from state to state. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Gaining Access to Unemployment Insurance
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.