The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 22, 2013

Unemployment agency officials add some clarity to benefits application form

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

LANSING – Many unemployed building trades union workers in Michigan now have some clarity on how to best fill out their application to obtain jobless benefits.

Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Business Representative Hugh Coward said local union reps from around the state have received numerous calls from members because of changes to Unemployment Agency rules that took effect beginning Jan. 6. The changes have caused confusion for jobless workers filling out one state form in particular as they seek to receive benefits under the new rules.

State Unemployment Insurance Agency officials now say for most trades workers, there’s a simple path forward for filling out form UIA 1583 – Monthly Record of Work Search. Jobless union trades workers who have been accustomed to using their union hall as a hiring hall have expressed confusion about whether new rules require them to start going to individual employers, applying for work, and keeping notes of their contacts. For the first 120 days of benefits, the short answer is “no.”

Steve Arwood, director of licensing and regulation for the Unemployment Insurance Agency, told delegates at the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council Legislative Conference on March 6 that as a condition of receiving extended unemployment compensation benefits, “all you have to do is put that you’re hired through their union hall on Form 1583.”

Arwood’s comments confirmed a Feb. 28 e-mail to Coward from Shaun Thomas, chief operating officer of the UIA. He wrote: “This is to confirm that the Unemployment Insurance Agency will consider the Monthly Record of Work Search (Form UIA 1583) complete for union workers who are required to seek work through a union hiring hall if it contains the following information: Words to the effect – “Only hired through union hall” and include name, address and phone number of a contact person for the union hiring hall. I suggest repeating it for each week claimed on the form. Sign date and return per the instructions on the form.”

Furthermore, a legislative aide to State Rep. Sean McCann forwarded the following information from the UIA: “Union workers can seek work at the union hall but, must record that search on their monthly work search form. After 120 days, if they are not back to work, then they must expand their work search. Yes, after 120 days, union workers would need to search outside the union hall. If they have not applied at Michigan Works, they need to. But they can also search for employment through other resources on their own.”