How Can Union Members Get Sub Pay While Drawing Unemployment?

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Union SUB pay refers to "supplemental unemployment benefits" plans, which unions negotiate through collective bargaining during contract negotiations. A union member can collect SUB pay along with state unemployment pay if the union she belongs to has a SUB plan and she qualifies for state unemployment benefits. Other conditions may apply depending on each union's SUB plan.

Unemployment Benefits

States run unemployment insurance pools that qualified employees can receive money from if they become unemployed. The aim of unemployment insurance benefits is to provide the unemployed with some modicum of financial stability while they look for a new job. MSNBC reports that unemployment funds originally were intended to provide beneficiaries with half of their former income, but as of 2010 benefits amounted to only 34 percent on average.

Read More: Contract Employment and Unemployment Benefits

SUB Plans

In light of meager state benefits and the seasonal character of some industries, some unions have successfully negotiated SUB plans to provide unemployed union members with substantially higher unemployment benefits. The state pays an amount dependent on a worker's wages, and the company pays an additional amount (the amounts depend on the union's SUB plan, and often vary depending on age, seniority and dependents).


Union members apply for and draw benefits like a nonunion employee: by submitting a claim to the state unemployment office. Union members must submit their employer's information, their personal information, a statement of their income for the last 15 months, and their reason for unemployment. A state employee evaluates the data and may interview the union member. If the application is approved, the union member receives a weekly check and must submit a claim every week or every two weeks until she goes back to work.


Union members receive more unemployment benefits than workers without a SUB plan. The amount varies from contract to contract. For example, unionized Ford employees make an average of 75 percent of their normal wages. Furthermore, unionized workers may get SUB pay when they are furloughed or otherwise temporarily unemployed and do not have to conduct a job search and submit a job search report.

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