The law in California stipulates that adjunct faculty are allowed to get unemployment benefits during the breaks between terms, and I have been availing myself of the extra income stream since I found out about it in late 2008. The legal reason is that we are given a contract, but like so many contracts nowadays, the employer can wriggle out of it easily, so the state gives us a little cash for the weeks we have promised to wait for a job that might not materialize due to budget constraints or low enrollment.
So far, so good.
The way it has worked before is that I signed up and then got a letter that there would be a phone call determining if I qualified, usually within the two week period before I mailed off my first claim. I get paid for a few weeks, I let them know I'm back at work and how much I'm making and the checks stop coming.
But this time, though I stopped working in mid-December, the call to check my story was scheduled for mid-January. They said wait ten business days to hear back, but nothing happened, so I sent a message online in early February. Now, mid February, I get an e-mail reply that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my paperwork and I should be seeing my first check any day now.
These delays, which I didn't see as recently as six months ago, can be laid at the feet of the Republican Party of California, who are also to blame for massive budget cuts in education. I'm lucky that I teach math, which is always one of the last departments to get slashed, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the pain of my fellow faculty in other departments.
The blame belongs to the Republicans, a distinct minority in California government, for rejecting any new taxes to solve the budget crisis in California. In our state, an entrenched minority can burrow in like a tick and stop anything they don't like. I wrote last year about the fact that only California does not tax oil companies for removing our natural resources, and finally starting this tax after letting the oil companies off the hook for more than a century could get our state back to a position where it could actually be governed again, providing services that are a benefit to all Californians.