Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why would you want a union?

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So few of us now belong to a labor organization that most of us probably don't even ask ourselves that question. If we do, we may think a union is just something that takes a bite out of our paychecks but never does anything else. Sometimes that may even be true, but not always.

Today I got a nice reminder of why having a union might be a real benefit. My partner is a "freeway flyer." That is, she makes a living by teaching as "adjunct faculty" at various colleges. "Adjunct faculty" is fancy language for a temp worker -- she gets no benefits and no guaranteed contracts. But one of the places she works does require her to be part of a faculty union.

Yesterday she taught her last class of the semester; today she got a note from her union rep:

In case you are interested, here is information regarding unemployment.

All part-time faculty are entitled to collect unemployment benefits based upon legal precedence set forth in the Cervisi case that was litigated by the CFT local at City College of San Francisco over a decade ago.

There are two key elements to demonstrate your legal right to collect benefits. You have been laid off due to "LACK OF WORK". In other words, there are no more classes to teach. Thus, you are legally unemployed. It doesn't matter if the employer still owes you money. You are unemployed after you finish teaching your last class.

The possibility of reemployment is "CONTINGENT UPON ENROLLMENT". While you may think it probable that you will be re-employed, technically, and thus, legally, you have NO GUARANTEED CONTRACT to be re-employed.

Semester after semester, part-timers' classes are cancelled due to lack of enrollment, so apply for the unemployment insurance benefit that you have paid for in your payroll deductions. To do so, go to ….

Now my partner is an adult; she knows this -- but all of us could use often use someone to remind us that we have rights and should use them.

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