We at the Ohio Laborers’ District Council recognize how hard you work throughout the year to support yourself and your family. We also know that Laborers’ work can be peppered with slow periods during which many Laborers need to supplement their income with Unemployment Compensation. Having 50+ years of field experience between us, we have been in your shoes and know how difficult unemployment can be to navigate.

On this month’s episode of Ohio Laborers Union & You podcast, we will be talking with Matt Szollosi, the Executive Director of ACT Ohio, about ways his organization has worked with Union Leaders to improve and protect unemployment benefits for working men & women. Listen Here.


There are two ways to file an unemployment claim, online at unemployment.ohio.gov. Filing online is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or you can call toll-free 877-644-6562 Monday through Friday 7 AM – 7 PM, Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday 9 AM – 1 PM. Please note, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the call volume is very heavy, and you may experience long wait times. You will need the following information to file your unemployment claim:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your driver’s license or state ID number
  • Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address
  • Name, address, telephone number, and dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past 6 weeks of employment
  • The reason you became unemployed from each employer
  • Dependents’ names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth
  • If claiming dependents, your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and birth date
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, alien registration number and expiration date
  • Your regular occupation and job skills

Please note, your unemployment benefit payment will begin processing after you receive your eligibility determination and after you file your first weekly claim.  Meaning, you will have a one week waiting period before your unemployment benefits take effect. So, be sure to file your claim as soon as possible. And, don’t forget – every week, for the first 3 weeks, you must file a weekly unemployment claim in order to receive payment for that week. You should do this even if your claim has not yet been approved. Assuming it is approved, you will then receive payment for those weeks.


Once you are laid off by your employer and file your unemployment claim, the next step should be to contact your Union Hall – notify them you have been laid off and request to be placed on the “Out of Work List.” The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) requires those seeking unemployment benefits to conduct “two work search activities” each week. One of the benefits of being a Union Laborer is that your Local Union takes that burden off of you. By signing the out of work list with your Local, you are following the referral hall policy, meeting the requirements of unemployment, and do not need to look for work. It is your Union Hall’s responsibility to seek employment opportunities for you.

When you open a new claim, ODJFS should send a Union Hall Verification Letter Request to your correspondence box (in your online unemployment account); make sure to notify your Union Hall, so they can provide ODJFS with a “good guy” letter. This letter explains why you are out of work, that you are a member in good standing, and that it is the Union’s responsibility to return you to work. If you do not do this, ODJFS may hold your benefits until they receive it. Your Union Hall is here to help you, but can only do so when they know what is needed. Be sure to check your correspondence box regularly. Additionally when filing your unemployment claim, you may be asked to sign up for Ohio Means Jobs. Do NOT sign up for this service, as it is not needed for our Union members.

Even though your Union does not directly administer unemployment benefits, rest assured, we are working behind the scenes to protect this important benefit. We may not be able to control the weather in Ohio, but we can give you the best opportunity and efforts during your time away from the job. If you are experiencing any issues with your unemployment – whether it is needing assistance filing, responding to correspondence, or missed payments, please contact your Local Union Hall, and they will do their best to assist you. If you and your Local continue experiencing problems, the issues can be referred to the District Council, where we have developed relationships with many key players around the state who may be able to help get your claims processed in a timelier manner. 

When you have been called back to work..

Simply stop filing your weekly claims, and your unemployment benefits will stop. If you get laid off a second time during a 12-month period, there is no need to start another claim and receive another claim number. You can file for unemployment under the same claim number you previously used.  However, please note, these claim numbers are only good for one year. So, if you generally only file one claim each winter, filing a new claim may be the better option.

Your Time off

Getting laid off and needing to file for unemployment generally isn’t the ideal scenario, but it does present Laborers with opportunities as well. Laboring can be a physically demanding job, so a little time off for your body to rest, recover, and recharge may be very beneficial for many. While your body is recovering, you can also explore different fitness routines to keep yourself active and to help prepare your body for the next busy season. In addition to physically recovering, a little time off could be what many need socially and spiritually. Many Laborers work long days and travel for work, so some downtime could provide you the quality time you need with your family, friends, and yourself.

One of the great benefits of being an Ohio Laborer is the access to free training. When laid off, you have the opportunity to increase your skill set by taking advantage of the classes the Ohio Laborers Training Center has to offer. You will even be compensated milage to and from the Training Center, and this compensation will NOT diminish your unemployment benefits. Visit oltc.org for information.

Eligibility for unemployment

To be eligible for Ohio Job and Family Services’ (ODJFS) Unemployment Insurance Benefits you must have worked (full-time or part-time) at least 20 weeks during a 12-month period. A “week” may be established with any calendar week in which you earned or were paid wages, or with allocated payments such as vacation pay, severance pay, and holiday pay. Once you start your unemployment claim you will be eligible for up to 26 weeks of benefits.  Your weekly benefit amount is computed at one-half of your average weekly wage during your base period. Please note, in no case can your weekly benefit amount exceed the state’s annually established maximum levels (based on the number of allowable dependents claimed). The 2021 maximums for each dependency classification can be seen HERE. 

Unemployment Checklist

  • Apply for Unemployment.
  • Contact your Local Union to get on the Out-of-Work List.
  • Maintain your Dues.
  • Check to see how long your insurance is extended – call the Benefits Office at 800-236-6437 or check your account HERE. 
  • Consider taking a class through the Training Center.

Have you been a victim of unemployment fraud?

Over the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic causing an influx of claims, thousands of Ohioans have been victims of unemployment fraud. To report expected fraud, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov and click the red “Report Identity Theft” button near the top of the page. You can also call 800-686-1555 to report fraud.