Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Summer unemployment insurance for adjuncts

To all NYS Residents,

A bill has been drafted in the state legislature that is aimed specifically at contingent faculty rights: S4123 (Onorato) and A0613-(John) would allow faculty to collect Unemployment Insurance over summer and winter breaks.

Adjuncts have usually been denied Unemployment Insurance on grounds that said contracts constitute "reasonable assurance" of future employment, even though in fact the courses can always be cut at the last minute, and the adjunct's just out of luck.

This is a huge issue nationwide in contingent-faculty rights, and in NYS the idea of this bill has been debated -- in committee, between SUNY-UUP and CUNY-PSC, etc. -- for years.

Now it's finally coming to a vote on the floors of the NYS Legislature. So please go online to http://www.uupinfo.org or: http://www.nysut.org/cps/rde/xchg/nysut/hs.xsl/contactelectedofficials_12916.htm

This bill is backed by the AFL-CIO and has a real chance of passage. Please take a minute to show your support NOW.

And if you're not from New York state, please contribute details and anecdotes about how your state deals with this issue.

Steve Street, Buffalo State
Peter D.G. Brown, SUNY New Paltz



  1. Does anyone know when this would go through, or is up to pass or not? ie: if it passes, would it make adjuncts this year eligiable?


  2. Is an adjunct ever eligible for unemployment insurance? Say for a winter term if not rehired or the classes don't fill?

  3. To responde to self of 15 July, while Unemployment Insurance is a federal program, it’s administered by each state, and each state has its own laws.

    The answer to your question should be yes. When a worker, through no fault of his or her own, is without work, he or she is/should be eligible to file for unemployment. When adjuncts are laid off, because of not being offered a class or a class doesn’t fill, they should file for UI.

    In Washington State, one must have worked the academic equivalent of 680s hours in the prior five quarters. The 680 assumes a "regular" worker on a 35- or 40-hour per week schedule; the total has to be translated when faculty apply, since faculty are not on such a schedule. But for adjuncts who’ve worked a year or more, rarely should insufficient work hours disqualify him/her from filing. In addition to classroom contact, the adjunct can self-document hours worked in lecture preparation, grading of papers, developing syllabi, writing handouts, conferring with students, reading journals, attending conferences, etc.

    Jack Longmate (jacklongmate@comcast.net)

  4. Thanks, Jack: an informative answer indeed. Please note 7/19 posting on this issue as well.

  5. Does anyone have any more info on this? Has it been passed or does it look like it will be? When can we expect an answer?

  6. Dear Anonymous: not yet, it hasn't been passed, though my union president tells me the bills might come up for a vote the next time around, maybe late summer. Meantime, this adjunct's filed and collected a few payments that were then stopped pending an investigation into this very issue, educational faculty w/a future appointment that's contingent upon enrollment. "It's come to our attention," said the DOL notice announcing the investigation, though the online claim form allows for explaining the particulars of one's situation, which I did. Will keep you posted. Meantime I'd advise adjuncts to file a claim; if challenged, reference bill S-1423-a and A-163-a (you might also check NYSUT's web site for a downloadable copy of their Legislative Memorandum on this bill specificially about higher-education contingent faculty, which defines its and offers extensive support for it).

  7. Well, it's a year later & the damned thing hasn't passed. I'm wondering if this blog is still active. The PSC has given up on this issue because Adjuncts aren't important enough to them-- we're just bargaining chips in the long run. So who's going to help us now?

  8. Jessic ~ personally. I think change will eventually have come at the national level. Take a look at NFM's Unemployment Compensation Initiative (UCI).

    PS delighted to encounter another Dr Who aficcionada/o in any dimension


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