Spread the word! IATSE Local 13 Union referred, W2 employees (with enough qualified weeks of work) are always eligible for Unemployment Insurance. (One possible exception is the MN State Fair, see below.)
Meanwhile, 1099 contractors are usually not. The Senate Bill now going to the House may change that temporarily for the Covid situation.
The state recommends that everyone use their online system for filing an unemployment claim. That system is designed for people with one or two employers. Not for most of us, who can have many more. There have been many reports of errors and crashes as the online system is trying to handle five time more requests than it did a year ago.
If you believe you have the fortitude, you can try going for it here:
UI has expanded their online hours to Sunday through Friday, 6am-8pm. Do not start after 7pm or you will likely run out of time.
Because we work for multiple employers, attempting to file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) using the state recommended online system may not work for you. You may be timed out after 45 minutes online, logged out at 8pm, be given error messages you have no control over, or just give up in frustration. In some of these instances your information is not saved and you will have to start over.
From many years of past experience, it is recommended to use the telephone to call the UI Customer Service Center. There you can talk to a representative that can see multiple screens of your and your employer's information at once, compared to you trying to do everything on only one screen at home. (Be prepared to hold, preferably on speaker.)
They already have your work history (as reported by your employers) in front of them and can search for new ones much faster than you can.
They also know how to properly answer questions that may not seem relevant to your case, but allow them to gather statistical information.
So, unless you know every gig you've worked in the last 18 months, how many hours worked and what you were paid, here's some advice.
For the calls you have taken through the Referral System, you can call the Local 13 office (closes at 3:30pm M-F) at 612-379-7564 or email info@IATSE13.org and ask for these two reports.
Call History, and Earnings History by Employer/Date for 18 months. If you use these reports cross off employers as they are dealt with to be sure none are missed at the UI office.
Have your Social Security number handy
Have your MN Drivers License or ID handy.
Have your bank or credit union routing number and account number available.
Have your cell phone on speaker as you should expect long wait times while you hold, and even after you've reached a person, your call could take another hour to process all of your employers.
If you have more than a half dozen employers, it would be polite to tell the person you've reached that you are a stagehand and know your case will take a while, so if they need to catch a cup of coffee or hit the restroom before starting you can be patient. Be patient, and be aware UI phone lines shut down at 4:30pm each day, M-F.
They're going to want to know when you started working for each employer, when your last day was, how much you were paid an hour and how many hours a week you worked for each employer.
If you do not have that information (most of which is in the two reports above), starting 18 months ago and ending last week may have to suffice. You may be able to guess your hours worked by dividing your gross wages by whatever you think your wage rate was. If you worked less than 52 hours in a year for someone, say you averaged one hour a week.
Two quick notes:
U of M (Northrop) will automatically contest your UI. Make sure to tell the rep you are not an educator, as they have different rules. If they take note of that, you'll be fine.
In the past, the MN Ag Society (State Fair) had an agricultural exemption to UI if you only work the two weeks including the Fair being in session. If you worked other days, all of your Fair work should count.
When you have finished your application, remember that you will have to report your wages (or lack of them) to UI every week or you will not be paid. If you have a good week, report it, as the next one may not be as good.
UI benefits are intended to be roughly half of what your average weekly gross was during your benefit year. The maximum benefit you can currently receive is $740 a week, calculated over 26 weeks of total unemployment.
If you get some work, but make less than your weekly UI benefit, your UI payment will be reduced by half of what you made working. For example if your weekly UI benefit is $500 and you report you worked 16 hours in a week for a total of $300, your UI benefit will be reduced by $150. So you'll get a work check for the $300 gross and a UI payment of $350.
Instead of just $500 UI gross, you made $650 gross for the week.
The intention is to give you incentive to find work instead of just sitting at home and collecting UI. The other advantage of this is the money they reduced your payment by is still in your UI Account Balance, so if this slow down goes longer than 26 weeks you will be able to continue drawing weekly until your Account Balance is exhausted.
If you stop reporting your weekly work you may have to start over, so its just easier to report every week.
The following information is from the UIMN.org website.