Unemployment Benefits for Part-Time Faculty

Part-time faculty have the right to apply for unemployment benefits between college sessions and/or semesters. In the landmark Cervisi case (1989) brought by the AFT local at San Francisco City College, the California Court of Appeals ruled that part-time, temporary instructors are eligible for unemployment if they have a teaching assignment that can be canceled for lack of funding, low enrollment, or other factors. 

Because the contingent contract offered to adjuncts by Cabrillo is a merely a tentative offer of employment, that could be canceled for various reasons (see below), it does not constitute “reasonable assurance” of employment. 

How do I apply for benefits?

The easiest way to apply is online at the Employment Development Department (EDD): http://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/. You can also apply be telephone (1-800-300-5616), by fax, or by mail (download the application from the EDD website). Note that phone applications are less labor intensive, but can involve a long waiting period).

Please note that you are paid from the beginning of flex week through the end of the academic semester (unless you have a specified, shorter-term contract).  This is true even if you stop teaching before the final date listed in your individual contract. Once a claim is established, it remains open for one year. The first time you receive benefits for the claim, you are subject to a one-week unpaid waiting period. If you reopen your claim any time during that yeear, no additional waiting period will apply. The EDD will main you materials, including a Benefits Handbook and a Notice of Unemployment Insurance Award.  

What you need to know when you file for unemployment.

Be sure to let them know you are a temporary, part-time employee who has been laid off for lack of work. If you have an assignment for the fall/spring, explicate that you have a tentative assignment for the upcoming semester and that your assignment may be withdrawn at the District’s discretion at the last minute because of funding, enrollment, or other changes. We also recommend having on hand a copy of the following section of the CCFT contract for your application process:

16.5 Cancellation or Withdrawal of Tentative Assignment

Adjunct teaching assignments are made by the District on a tentative basis, subject to a number of institutional factors: (1) Administrative and Governing Board approval; (2) class size; (3) possible assignment of a contract or regular instructor, as a part of a normal load, to one or more classes tentatively assigned to an adjunct instructor. If an assignment is canceled or withdrawn by the District, the cancellation or withdrawal will be effective when the adjunct unit member is notified by the division chair or administrative dean. If the instructor is not notified until the day of the class meeting, she/he shall be compensated for the number of hours the class meets. If the instructor is notified after his/her flex commitment has been met, the instructor shall be compensated for the hours spent meeting the flex requirements.

You should also mention your entitlement to benefits under the case of Cervisi v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (1989) 256 Cal.Rptr.142. The Cervisi decision states, “an assignment that is contingent on enrollment, funding, or program changes is not a ‘reasonable assurance’ of employment.”

In filing your claim, please note that your local number is AFT local 4400. CCFT does not control your hiring, look for work, or register you if you are out of work.

What should I do if I am denied benefits?

With your denial notification, you will receive a form to appeal the decision that has been made. Complete and return the form. Include the following statement in the body of your appeal: I am appealing the denial of benefits based on my status as a part-time, temporary community college instructor. My continued employment is contingent upon minimum enrollment, proper funding, and not being replaced by a full-time tenure track instructor whose class(es) may not have met enrollment requirements.  As such, I do not have ‘reasonable assurance’ of employment the coming semester, as per the Cervisi decision.”

If you decide to appeal the EDD’s decision, you must continue to file claim forms for each two-week period and continue to look for work in your occupation

Deadline for appeal: You must file within 20 calendar days after the mailing date of the denial notice. The EDD will then make a re-determination (and pay benefits) or process the appeal.

Where can I get help?

If you have any questions or comments, please call CCFT representative Maya Bendotoff

Resources

For filing information and details about eligibility see the Employment Development Department (EDD) website: http://www.edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/.

Check our the new "Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Contingent Faculty" manual online: www.chicagococal.org (see part 6 for tips on filing).

The California Part Time Faculty Association website has useful links, including a link to the Cervisi decision and a handbook by Robert Bezemek: www.cpfa.org/unemployment.html