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Indiana not-for-profit teacher's assistants denied unemployment benefits

Seasonal jobs are a common sight across the nation, including here in Indiana. Whether you're a concession-stand attendant at a ballpark or a school teacher, you know that during the off season, you will likely have to seek alternate work or face the tough decision of watching your income slip away during the months of no work.

Some seasonal positions, like the teacher's assistant position for the non-profit pre-school program Head Start, have been able to collect unemployment benefits during their off times. For over a decade, teachers with the program have been allowed to file for unemployment benefits because the not-for-profit does not have enough federal funding to pay all of its employees during the summer months. Now, the state of Indiana is not only denying these teachers benefits but are putting them in a difficult financial situation as well.

In the summer of 2012, teachers in the school district received a notice from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development stating that they would no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. The state's reasoning: the temporary layoff that the non-profit was enforcing during the summer months was now being considered "unpaid vacation" time. The state was also demanding that last year's benefits be paid back.

This is not the first time that employment disputes such as this have become a source of contention in the state. Some workers, as well as their attorneys, point out that under-funding to the state's unemployment insurance is one of the many reasons why the state has now decided to cut benefits; the state is running low on funds that are depleting faster than they are being replenished.

Although many of the workers are fighting back against the state's decision to terminate their benefits, it's unclear at this time when their case will be heard by a judge in the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Source: In These Times, "Are Workers 'Sacrificial Lambs' For Indiana's Unemployment Fund Deficit?" Fran Quigley, Jan. 15, 2013

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