February 2023 Advocate: Unemployment assistance available

Unemployment Insurance for Part-time Faculty

Problems claiming unemployment?  Help for adjunct faculty is available! 

by Jessica Silver-Sharp, AFT 1493 Secretary

California community college part-time faculty (aka “adjuncts”) are eligible for unemployment benefits in between semesters and during summer. As a result of the 1989 Cervisi decision, part-time faculty are eligible for unemployment benefits between terms because they do not have “reasonable assurance of reemployment”—even though they might have been offered an assignment for the following semester or have a signed contract in hand. Unfortunately, as adjuncts know all too well, an offer or even a contract does not guarantee an income for the coming semester. Because your future assignment is subject to enrollment, funding, and program needs, you are eligible to claim unemployment until the day it begins (and longer if the pay you earn from it is not as much as the unemployment benefit you receive).

File your claim on your last day of work of the semester

If you haven’t filed an unemployment claim in California before, mark your calendars for May 26, the last day of the term. You will want to file your new claim on your last day of work that week, which may be May 24 or 25 depending on your teaching schedule. If you do not file before Sunday May 28 you will not be able claim the week of May 29, resulting in a loss of up to $450. If you haven’t filed before, be sure to allocate about 2 to 3 hours of prep time to gather all the information you will need from your pay stubs, etc.

A trustworthy step-by-step guide for filing or re-opening your unemployment claim, written specifically for California adjunct faculty members, is available here. (This guide is part of the “Contingent World” website, which is maintained by John Govsky, Co-Chair of the CFT Part-Time Committee and provides useful resources for California community college part-time faculty.)  Additionally, your union can help with any questions you may have along the way. Our local is planning to hold unemployment office hours on Zoom in May to assist adjuncts with the nuts and bolts of claiming benefits.

If you’ve had problems with EDD, contact your local state legislator

During the past two or three years, many adjuncts considered giving up on claims they had previously filed due to a wide variety of problems with the California Employment Development Department (EDD.)  As an adjunct myself, my claim had been “stuck” for almost two years, which was extremely frustrating. Because EDD became so overwhelmed during Covid, our California senators and assembly reps hired extra staff to help Californians struggling to claim their benefits. If you believe you are owed money by the EDD that you have not received, you can contact your local state legislator using one of the links in the table below which provide forms to describe your issue. A legislative staff member will usually call you within a short time and start a case for you. Within two weeks of seeking help from Josh Becker’s office, I was able to get $2,000 of benefits I was owed from 2021 and 2022.

For more information, see AFT1493’s website AFT1493 | Unemployment Info. Our Executive Secretary Marianne Kaletzky <Kaletzkym@aft1493.org>  and Secretary Jessica Silver-Sharp <silver-sharp@aft1493.org> are both on hand to answer your questions as well.

Legislator Geographic area How to contact re EDD
Sen. Josh Becker San Mateo County except SSF and Daly City; northern Santa Clara County  

Use this form and for Select an Issue choose “Assistance with a state agency”


Asm. Phil Ting Western San Francisco and northwest
San Mateo County (incl. SSF and Daly City)

Use this EDD-specific form


Asm. Matt Haney San Francisco – east side  

Use this form and select “Assistance with Unemployment/EDD”


Sen. Scott Wiener All of San Francisco plus SSF and Daly City  

Use this form and for Select an Issue choose “**Assistance Needed with EDD or Unemployment Benefits**”


Sen. Nancy Skinner East Bay (incl. Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond)  

Use this form and provide as much detail about the issue as possible



Sen. Dave Cortese


Most of Santa Clara County Use this EDD-specific form