Each year, many of our campus workers at the University of Illinois struggle to get by. Food Service Workers and Building Service Workers, among others, often are “laid off” during the summers when the students leave. Though they typically receive work again when the fall instruction resumes, they are ineligible to apply for unemployment benefits during the summer period. Normally, this is already a very difficult financial circumstance–but the pandemic has made this situation even worse for many. Our friends from AFSCME have asked us to support their push to get Illinois legislators to amend the unemployment insurance restrictions, which would allow much needed relief to come to non-instructional higher ed workers at UIUC and elsewhere. Below is a copy of the letter that we are sending to the office of Governor JB Pritzker calling on him to help lead the charge to provide unemployment benefits to all higher ed workers over the summer.
You can get involved too! Our friends from AFSCME are asking us to call our legislators to ask them to support these changes. More details are in the image above.
Dear Governor Pritzker,
We are writing on behalf of the thousands of non-instructional educational employees (e.g., teacher aides, building and grounds workers, food service workers, bus drivers) in elementary, secondary, and higher education to request that you take action to ensure that these workers are eligible for summer unemployment benefits.
Unlike other seasonally unemployed workers, non-instructional education workers are currently ineligible to apply for benefits. This is the case even though they face many of the same challenges as other seasonally unemployed workers.It is nearly impossible to find work in the 2-3 month period over the summer while they’re unemployed, receiving low wages, and receiving few benefits. These benefits are already crucial in normal times given their low wages. With the added financial stressors of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to allow non-instructional education workers access to unemployment benefits.
The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) provides funding from the federal government to reimburse up to 50% of the costs of unemployment benefits for workers from March 13th through December 31st of this year. This funding will offset any educational employer costs.
We are asking that you please take action to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act (820 ILCS 420) to allow non-instructional educational employees to apply for unemployment insurance.
Michael Odom, President
Amanda Bales, Vice President
Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local #6546 AFT/IFT/AAUP