Most adjuncts face the same issues, one being unemployment. For many folks in the regular working world of full time employment, it's hard to believe that the majority of faculty at the college and university level face periods of unemployment every few months-- and sometimes for 3-4 months at a time. While adjuncts can apply for unemployment insurance during these periods, it can be difficult to actually receive unemployment insurance benefits when they apply. Unfortunately, the law is outdated and contains loopholes that treat employees of educational institutions differently than other seasonally unemployed workers.
The good news is that in New York State, the home state of the Adjunct Faculty Assembly, recent court rulings have made it possible for more adjuncts to qualify for unemployment insurance during 2015. Some observers said that more cases were being won in hearings during summer of 2015. Information is available on the website of our union, the PSC, as linked below (be aware of the dates of postings, for some details may be out of date).
If you are thinking of applying for unemployment insurance, know that the PSC does not provide legal representation to adjuncts or offer individual advice. However, staff at the Workers Defense League, a
non-profit advocacy organization, have been very helpful to CUNY adjuncts and even represented some of us in hearings. WDL is the best source of current information on unemployment insurance as it applies to adjuncts. Call them at 212-627-1931.
Adjuncts who are unemployed or whose income is inadequate even while they are working often qualify for government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance. It's fairly simple to apply online:
NYS Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
PSC website links on unemployment insurance:
Urgent End-of-Year Information for Teaching Adjuncts, June 2015
Pass the Adjunct Professors' Unemployment Insurance Fairness Act, posted June 2015
Adjunct Unemployment Benefits, June 2013
"Adjuncts and Unemployment Compensation: Should You File?" (June 2011)
The Steve Street National Unemployment Compensation Initiative
"Surviving an Unemployment Hearing" by Jessica Burke (The College of Staten Island)