Monday, April 06, 2015

Oregon Needs to Change the UI Law Here

The main reason I decided to join OSEA, the AFT-affiliated union for classified employees, was so that I would be eligible to apply for school district work in the summer months.

It would be great if I didn't have to do it at all, but the financial hardships are too much during that 10-week summer break.

Teachers are salaried, and they typically have their annual salaries spread out over 12 months. School-based classifieds have to somehow scrimp and save their meager salaries to carry them over during the unpaid period because they are paid by the hour.

OSEA is trying to get the unemployment insurance law changed so that classified employees, like construction workers and loggers, can get UI when they are not working for an extended period of time but have not been permanently laid off.

From the newsletter:

Classified employees testify for unemployment benefits during school breaks

OSEA members testified last week before the state Senate Workforce Committee in favor of removing restrictions that currently deny unemployment benefits to classified school employees when their workplace is temporarily closed.

Senate Bill 470 would ensure that our members are not unfairly prevented from receiving benefits that other workers whose workplaces periodically close — loggers and construction workers for example — are allowed to receive.

Beth Lampert, a special education assistant from Crook County Chapter 85, highlighted the real value her work brings to the lives of special needs children in the school — and the financial struggles she must endure in order to continue serving them.

Anna Taylor, a special education assistant from Beaverton Chapter 48, described the dilemma of how she will persevere when school is closed for the summer.

"Arriving at that Sept. 20 [pay day] was almost impossible," Taylor said of her experience last year. "August 1 is a terrible time to be looking for a second part-time job."

She said she had to seek arrangements with debtors and her landlord in order to avoid being sent to collections.

"It's taken months to recover from that financial setback," Taylor said.

OSEA Board of Directors Secretary Cydnie Meyer, a head secretary in Corvallis Chapter 2, pointed out the high classified employee turnover in her district — 70 percent of whom have a bachelor’s degree. Ensuring basic, year-round financial security could reduce turnover costs for the district and provide a more consistent educational experience for students.

"The high level of classified turnover causes a disconnect and a slowdown in student academic progress as our classified employees are replaced," Meyer said. "... As you are considering costs of this measure, I hope you are considering the hidden costs that are being paid daily by our classified members as a result of this unjust position."

The next step is a work session, where legislators may or may not decide to pass the bill onto the full Senate for a vote.

You can view video footage of the testimony here starting at minute 12:00. More than 30 other OSEA members provided supportive written testimony for the hearing, which can be found here.

Oregon is more sane than other states. I hope the legislature does this.

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