From Geoff Johnson, President, AFT Adjunct/Contingent Caucus
I send his note with some urgency regarding AFTACC’s request for testimonials regarding adjunct/contingent and the need for unemployment insurance. The AFTACC needs more and we need them soon.
According to recent data processed by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show that nationwide, enrollment was down by 600,000 this past Spring compared to a year ago, with a national decline in community college enrollment of 9.5%. This loss of enrollment has necessarily resulted in the loss of work and income for thousands adjunct/contingent faculty nationwide.
While colleges and universities are reopening, many students, either wary of return, or more often facing the tremendous financial and personal challenges created by the COVID Epidemic, are either foregoing or delaying enrollment.
Further, many Public Higher Ed systems, who receive funding based on enrollment, have already seen stretched budgets slashed.
This, in short, means the high levels of adjunct/contingent unemployment will not go away in the Fall, or the immediate future.
Many of these unemployed adjunct/contingents have struggled to hang on by the grace of unemployment insurance provided through their states. This is because these states have recognized that adjunct/contingent faculty, hired on a term-by-term basis, contingent upon enrollment, do not have “reasonable assurance” of being rehired.
However, many states interpret “reasonable assurance” differently, leaving adjunct/contingent faculty with no access to desperately needed unemployment insurance.
The solution to this issue is the US Department of Labor to change its language regarding “reasonable assurance,” thus making it possible for all unemployed adjunct/contingent faculty to receive needed unemployment relief.
This would also aid current adjunct/contingent in those states that grant them benefits, in that often the difference between state and Federal guidelines complicates the process, resulting in a denial of benefits.
THE AFTACC is seeking adjunct/contingent testimonials it will in turn pass on to other major union and advocacy groups, such as the American Federation of Teachers which will meet with the Department of Labor to lobby for this needed change. We are asking adjunct/contingent faculty, whether in states which current give unemployment benefits or not, to send us any of the following:
1) How unemployment has impacted you and how unemployment benefits, if you do not receive them, would impact your life
2) How unemployment has impacted your life, and how unemployment benefits, if you receive them, helps you.
3) How applying for unemployment benefits has been a personal and emotional struggle.
4) If you’re a local union leader or adjunct/activist shares the effects of unemployment on your adjunct/faculty.
We (AFTACC) will only pass on the names of adjuncts or their locals by request. I myself am currently unemployed and thankfully receiving benefits. I know the pain and the shame. Our request is meant only to advocate, empower, and uplift.
Please email your testimonials to mixiniminao@gmailcom.
PS: Please share widely