This is Geoff Johnson, President of the AFT Adjunct/Contingent Caucus with an important request to help us help you regarding unemployment benefits for adjunct/contingent faculty.
As you know, a significant numbers of adjunct and contingent faculty in the US are presently unemployed due to low enrollment. This will increase during the so-called “Winter Break,” between December and January, or as late as February.
In fact, these are not “breaks” for adjunct/contingent faculty, but periods of unemployment, with the “guarantee” of future employment contingent upon enrollment. In fact, one of the main reasons that adjunct-contingent faculty are effectively hired and fired between breaks is to save on the costs of providing health insurance. In states such as California through the Cerevisi decision, or through state legislation such as in New Jersey, it has become possible for adjunct/contingent faculty to get unemployment benefits during the Summer and Winter when they are unemployed or underemployed. Other states of note in this regard are New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, Washington, etc.
Still, in many states, unemployment insurance for adjunct-contingent faculty is unavailable, and with the sharp drop in enrollment many predict for public institutions in the Fall, tens of thousands of adjunct-contingent faculty are at financial risk, on top of the 25% of adjunct-contingent faculty already relying on some form of public assistance. Further, even in states where benefits are available, the difference between state and federal policies governing reasonable assurance create significant burdens which often prevent eligible adjunct/contingent faculty from collecting benefits.
More than ever there needs to be a push to get the US Department of Labor, or DOL to change language governing reasonable assurance.
The AFTACC is asking you in those states where you can’t get or are having trouble getting unemployment benefits to send us testimonials which we will forward to AFT National to help them in lobbying for change in the DOL Reasonable Assurance language. We extend this request to all adjunct-contingent faculty, not just those in AFT locals, but also those in NEA or SEIU locals, or other groups. It is a nationwide problem needing a nationwide solution.
Recently AFT National asked if we could share these testimonials with the White House, which means they are taking up the issue. It was also expressed that more testimonials are both welcome and encouraged.
In your testimonial, please discuss how your periodic or present unemployment situation has affected your life, and what being able to receive unemployment benefits would mean for you and your family.
Please email your testimonials to me, Geoff Johnson, at email@example.com. I promise to keep names confidential at your request. Once collected, I will be passing this testimonials onto to AFT National to be used in helping to lobby the DOL to make the changes to help adjunct-contingent faculty get the unemployment benefits many so desperately need, and I will be happy to share them with any group lobbying for adjunct-contingent faculty on our behalf.
Additionally, I ask that you share this message to as many adjuncts as possible. The more testimonials, the more impact.
It is imperative we act now to prevent further adjunct-contingent poverty and suffering.