Archive for July 30, 2013

Help with your unemployment compensation claim

Within the past six weeks, the Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association sent two public records requests to seven Ohio institutions of higher education.

As of now, we have received documents from Lakeland Community College and the University of Akron. We have uploaded these to our website.

You can find all public records we received by clicking on the Campuses tab, then on the link for the individual college or university. We will post more as we get them.

Among the documents we already received were a response letter from legal counsel at UA and an email from legal counsel at LCC that said a list of part-time faculty who have been assigned courses for fall semester 2013, as well as contracts for those faculty, will not be available until October (at UA) or the tenth week of the semester (at LCC).

If you are an adjunct at UA or LCC, these documents may help bolster your unemployment compensation claim and/or its appeal, if your claim has been denied because the university has argued you have “reasonable assurance of employment” in the fall term. These documents appear to indicate otherwise. Please consider downloading them and including them in your unemployment compensation appeal to help bolster your case.

We also recommend that you read this post about a UA adjunct who won her unemployment compensation appeal after a telephone hearing was conducted. We have posted the documents she included in her successful appeal, which made a cogent argument regarding the difference between the “possibility of employment” and “reasonable assurance of employment” using wording from the Federal Unemployment Tax Act and UA policies.

You can find the documents she used on the University of Akron page on this site. They are located under the heading “Documents for your unemployment compensation claim or appeal.”

You can find the public records we received at these links:

More unemployment compensation resources:

OPTFA meets July 31 at noon

July OPTFA meeting

Location: Copley Commons, 2830 Copley Rd., Suite 26, Copley, Ohio 44321
Date and Time: Wednesday, July 31, noon

To attend the meeting via computer or telephone:

1.  Please join my meeting by computer:
2.  Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) – a headset is recommended.  Or, call in using your telephone.
Access Code: 296-615-981
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 296-615-981

Higher ed analyst blasts UA for low grad rates, lack of leadership

A column in today’s Akron Beacon Journal written by higher ed analyst Joseph Yeado of the Education Trust blasts The University of Akron for its plummeting graduation ratesUA grad rate particularly the dismal six-year graduation rate of 9.8 percent for black students.

The piece criticizes UA for lack of leadership and “an extensive building spree.”

It also calls for campus-wide engagement in “establishing a culture of completion where everyone, from tenured professor to resident assistant, is responsible for ensuring student success.”

We would note that current policies and practices regarding part-time faculty at UA make that impossible.

Read the full article at this link: 
Everything at UA but enough grads and add your comments.

Rising Cost of College on Sound of Ideas July 24, 9-10 a.m.

“The Sound of Ideas” on NPR (WCPN), hosted by Mike McIntyre on Wednesday, Julyfor profit 24, from 9-10 a.m. EST, will discuss “The Rising Cost of College.”

Discussion participants include:
Aaron Calafato, Former admissions counselor, creator of one-man show For Profit and Artistic Director at Student Debt Crisis

John Carey, Ohio Chancellor of Higher Education

Bruce Johnson, president of the interuniversity council

Richard Vedder, Economics Professor at Ohio University and Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Mike Foley, State Representative and cosponsor of “Fair Deal for College Education” bill proposal

Listen on your radio, computer or smartphone and share the link to the livestream broadcast. Then participate in the conversation by calling in or leaving comments on there website and through social media.

UA adjunct wins unemployment appeal

At the University of Akron and some other Ohio institutions, it is routine practice to dispute unemployment claims filed by former employees, including part-time faculty members. This month, a member of UA’s part-time faculty fought the university’s denial of her claim and won.

The adjunct applied for benefits when spring semester ended in May. Her application was approved, and she received benefits from May 18 through June 8.

When UA disputed her claim, the Department of Job & Family Services issued a redetermination saying she was not eligible to receive benefits during the summer months because she had “reasonable assurance of continued employment” with UA for the fall term, as she had received and accepted a verbal offer to teach one course during fall semester 2013.

The adjunct filed a written appeal of the redetermination, and the process moved to the next level — a telephone hearing conducted by a hearing officer with Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Review Commission.

At the hearing, the adjunct represented herself, and UA was represented by Neil Bhagat, an attorney with Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, the firm that currently represents UA in its unemployment compensation disputes. UA also had Sheldon Wrice, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, on the line as a witness during the phone hearing.

Here’s how the part-time faculty member who won her appeal described the process:

“the administrator [Wrice] was understanding of my situation. At one point, he stated that I could be bumped by a full time faculty member up until the first day of classes. He also commented that an offer of employment was not a guarantee of employment, and that I did not enjoy the same rights and privileges as it relates to full time status…Although, my individual facts and circumstances could be different from others, they [other adjuncts] certainly will be able to cite the prior court case of the University of Akron v. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services as it relates to the reasonable assurance clause in the Ohio unemployment statute.

“As an aside, I think it is important to note that claimants can question witnesses during a telephone hearing. I simply asked questions of the administrator that cast doubt upon the certainty of part-time employment — especially in the areas of bumping and enrollment numbers. I hope this helps others to support their claims when denied unemployment based on this murky ‘reasonable assurance’ issue.”

When hearing officer Emily Briscoe issued her July 22 decision granting unemployment compensation to the UA adjunct, she cited Webster’s Dictionary in defining the terms “reasonable” and “assurance.” See the text of this section below or read the decision in its entirety, with the name of the part-time faculty member redacted by OPTFA to protect her privacy.

reasonable assuranceThe adjunct who won this appeal shared her story with the Ohio Adjunct Discussion Listserv in the hope that “it will help others decide to push forward with their claims and appeals.”

In a message on the listserv, she also wrote:
I do believe that the reasonable assurance justification employed by the University can be challenged. Additionally, I will simply add to the sentiments expressed in a previous [discussion list] thread, that unemployment benefits are our legal right when we lack employment. No one should be discouraged because they perceive some sort of backlash. If you think about it, what are you really losing? With the anticipated cutbacks in adjunct hours and class offerings, we are all vulnerable. The only way to ensure that we are treated fairly is for us to file. Hopefully, we can send a message to academic institutions that we will assert our rights to benefits and pursue them vigorously.

Although adjuncts are entitled to unemployment compensation between terms, they often do not file for benefits for several reasons:

  • They may not realize they are entitled to benefits.
  • They may fear retaliation.
  • They may be unwilling to go through the necessary filing and appeals process because they have heard that the claims of other adjuncts have been denied.

More unemployment compensation resources: