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Unemployment Benefits


UI was established in the 1930s during the Great Depression. It is a state-wide insurance program funded by employers who pay a small percentage of salary to the UI fund. Thus, UI is not “public assistance” or “charity”. It is an insurance system whereby those working help those who are unemployed. For 2011, the cap on a weekly UI check is still $450 per week. Most teachers and certificated support staff can expect to receive this amount. Part-time and substitutes may receive a lower amount.

New Online Application Process

Formerly, unemployed workers would report to their local Employment Development Department (EDD) office for an eligibility interview with a claims clerk. Now, applications can be done over the phone, by mail, and/or via a FAX machine. The EDD provides free access to the above at its local Calworks offices throughout California. Oakland has one of these offices--Downtown at 1212 Broadway, Suite 100/ (510) 768-4473.
Application forms can be obtained at

How to Apply by Phone

While internet applications are encouraged by EDD, you can also call 1-800-300-5616. An agent from the EDD will ask for your Social Security Number, name and address; last employer, phone, and address (use 1025 Second Avenue, not your school). S/he will then ask you a series of questions from the application form. The OEA is Local #46 if you are asked. Do not apply for UI until the week in which you are officially unemployed. If you start your claim early you may lose a week’s compensation at the end of your eligibility period. Conversely, do not wait until July 1. You are unemployed in K-12 and Adult Ed on June 17, 2011 even though you will receive a check on June 30 and may even have deferred pay in July and August. June 30 is the last day for Early Childhood Educators for the 2010-11 school year.

Responsibility to Seek Work

During your one week waiting period and while collecting UI, you must be able to show that you are engaged in an active search for work in your professional area. This can be done through internet search sites, newspaper classified sections, at job fairs, or by contacting school districts by phone. Check occasionally with your last employer and know your “recall” number. The burden is on the EDD to prove that you are not looking for a comparable job. Nevertheless, document your efforts in case you are audited.

Keeping EDD Informed

Once you have been approved for UI, it is important to notify EDD if you are officially “recalled” to Oakland Unified. Oral statements by principals and/or other administrators do not constitute rehire. Only the Superintendent or designee can recall a laid off employee! If you are notified in writing that you have been recalled, your eligibility for UI may be voided. If you then continue to file weekly claims, you may be forced to pay the EDD back and suffer penalties.

Summer School

If you teach summer school, but are not recalled, you can apply for UI (or reopen your June claim) at the conclusion of your particular summer session.

Who is Eligible?

All laid-off Early Childhood and Adult Education Teachers, K-12, May 15 RIFs, Temporary Contract Releases, Probationary Non-Reelects, and STIP Substitute Teachers are eligible because you have received a letter to the effect that “Your services are no longer needed”. Until that status changes, you are UI eligible for a minimum of 26 weeks within your 52 week benefit year. Per Diem substitutes should consult the “Reasonable Assurance” memo from OEA.

Appeal Process

OEA will assist any laid off member in challenging a refusal by EDD or OUSD to approve your legitimate claim for UI. You must maintain your membership (at a reduced rate) to receive this union assistance after September 1, 2011.

Summer Work and Applying for Unemployment Insurance (UI) 

It is the position of the OEA that the form letter you recently received from the District stating that you have “Reasonable Assurance” for the fall starting in late August does not eliminate your right to UI if you are not offered work during the summer. Why is the fall different from the summer?

Unlike most other Districts in the Bay Area, Oakland continues to have a year-round program that is counter-posed to the traditional concept of July and August intersession. Because of this instruction in the Early Childhood Program and Summer Schools, judges have ruled that there is a 12 month availability of work in Oakland (and other urbans such as Los Angeles) and “reasonable assurance” is not applicable for the summer in such school districts. In other words, some substitutes will be working this summer in Oakland, but many are unable to work due to the reduced number of classes.

Furthermore, if you were on a STIP Contract, you were a temporary employee and have not been “reasonably assured” of an equivalent rate of compensation starting the year at the STIP rate unless and until the District has sent you a written letter granting you a STIP position for next year.

Finally, since OUSD Administration has laid-off probationary and permanent teachers this past school year and because the OUSD Board continues to approve more charter schools, the number of substitute assignments for 2011-12 will be significantly reduced.

Therefore, please read the attached information on how to apply for UI. It may be necessary to appeal a negative decision issued by the EDD in the first round. Our members have succeeded if they have followed this advice carefully. OEA is willing to assist full members (not fee payers) after you file your appeal in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Use the argument (s) listed above as the reason for your appeal. We have won these cases in the past and will do so in the future. Please stay united with the OEA/CTA/NEA! It pays to belong.

P.S. Please keep accurate records, including copies of any and all forms submitted to OUSD and EDD.