PSAC Membership Dues Corrections: Frequently Asked Questions

I have been told that my November 14, 2018 pay will be affected by an adjustment in union dues. What does this mean?

The Phoenix pay system has been a disaster for our members.  Members have been underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all. You can learn more about what the union has been doing to get this fixed. Not deducting union dues correctly is one more way that Phoenix has failed public sector workers. You can also push the government to pay public sector workers correctly, every pay day.

Letters to members with details about their specific dues situation will be sent out in November. If you haven't received a letter, we may not have your correct mailing address.  Please check your address through our online portal.

For most members under the Phoenix pay system, the amount in dues deducted monthly has been incorrect. The wrong dues information resulted from the failure of a critical element of the automated dues process when Phoenix was launched in March 2016. PSAC’s ability to communicate many changes, adjustments and corrections to dues amounts was halted by Phoenix’s inability to read the PSAC file that would have normally corrected your union dues. This file is called the “Change File”.

Example:

A member has a substantive position of a PM-04 but was acting as a PM-06 at the launch of Phoenix in March 2016. The member subsequently returns to his/her substantive in December 2016. Normally the dues amount paid would revert back to the PM04 rate as of early 2017. As PSAC has been unable to advise the employer to return the dues deduction to the lower PM-04 rate, the member has continued to pay at the PM06 level. The member has been overpaying union dues at the PM-06 level, they need to have their dues re-established at the correct PM-04 rate, and have the overpayment refunded to their pay.

PSAC has been working with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to allow for such corrections and adjustments to start up again. On November 14, 2018, members for whom adjustments in union dues are required will see these adjustments begin to take place on their pay.  Some members who have paid too much in dues will see refunds.  Some members who have paid too little in dues will see additional deductions.

How are my dues calculated? How does my employer know how much I’m supposed to pay? 

PSAC dues are based on the political structure of the union. All members belong to a Local, which may have a local dues rate (adopted at its Annual General Meeting). All Locals are affiliated with a Component, which has a dues rate that is adopted at the Component’s Triennial Convention. And finally, each Component is affiliated with PSAC, which has a rate that is adopted at the National Triennial Convention.  All dues rates are democratically decided.

Dues rates can be either a percentage of salary or a flat rate.  Percentage rates are applied against the first step salary of the classification, not on the actual step salary. Dues are not applied against overtime, bonuses or retroactive pay.  Part-time members pay pro-rated dues based on the hours worked; however, flat rates are not pro-rated.

A member’s affiliation within a Local/Component is often determined by the employer or department where they work.  For example:

Members who work for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) belong to the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) and may belong to any number of locals within UTE depending on their geographical area of work. Members working for the Fisheries and Oceans Canada may belong to either the Union of Health and Environment Workers (UHEW) or the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), depending on the type of work they do, and to a local within either UHEW or UCTE depending on their geographical area of work.

Monthly, PSAC receives information from your employer regarding the work you do, such as your classification and hours of work. This helps PSAC determine the correct amount of union dues that your employer should be deducting from your pay.  If there are adjustments – such as a transfer from one department to another – PSAC recalculates the correct amount and advises the employer in kind.

Video: Learn about PSAC’s structure

Monthly, PSAC receives information from your employer regarding the work you do, such as your classification and hours of work. This helps PSAC determine the correct amount of union dues that your employer should be deducting from your pay.  If there are adjustments – such as a transfer from one department to another – PSAC recalculates the correct amount and advises the employer in kind.

Why has it taken so long for my union dues to be adjusted?

The dues process is highly automated.  Despite testing this process prior to the official launch of Phoenix, the system has failed to correct and adjust our members’ dues. It has taken over 30 months of work involving PSAC and the Employer to get this system working again.

Why do I have to pay arrears?  The Phoenix pay system’s failure to correct my dues isn’t my fault.

You're right. This isn't your fault. It isn't PSAC's fault. The blame for the Phoenix pay system disaster is on the federal government - both the Harper government for setting it up and the Trudeau government for rolling it out despite warnings form unions, like PSAC. PSAC is pursuing every avenue to force the employer to pay damages to members because of the Phoenix pay system disaster.

The changes to dues that are being made now would have occurred earlier if the system was working normally. Phoenix did not result in increases or decreases to dues – it delayed these changes taking effect.

Example: A local has voted for a dues rate increase from $1 to $2 as of January 2017. PSAC has been unable to advise the pay system to alter the dues by the $1 difference.  Therefore, members in that local owe $23 (January 2017 to November 2018 @ $1 per month) in arrears, and an adjustment of $23 should occur on the November 14th pay. 

How much could I potentially owe? How is this money recovered?

Letters to members with details about their specific dues’ situation will be sent out in November. If you haven't received a letter, we may not have your correct mailing address. You can check your address here.

Most members owe $300 or less in back dues. It will be deducted at the rate of your normal dues. For example, if your correct dues are $75/month, no more than an additional $75 will be deducted in the same month.  If you owe a total of $100 in arrears, you will see $75 deducted as arrears in November and the balance of $25 in December.

The PSAC has a long-standing policy to only deduct the equivalent of the value of one year’s worth of union dues.  For example, if the value of the annual dues you should be paying is $1200, and you owe $1400 in back dues, we will only deduct an additional $1200 to cover the dues that are owing.

Affected members will fall into 2 categories:

Members who owe a difference between what should have been deducted versus what was deducted; Members for whom union dues have stopped (or were never started).

Members who owe a difference between what should have been deducted versus what was deducted (arrears):

Most members owe relatively small amounts and will see these additional dues deducted over a few months. Arrears are always deducted at the same rate as correct union dues. 

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

PSAC members for whom union dues have stopped or were never started:

A pay advisor will manually start the dues in your pay profile and then will advise PSAC, in writing, of the period of time when no dues were deducted. A pay advisor has been instructed to not start deducting arrears without PSAC’s approval. PSAC will calculate the amount owing and will advise the employer accordingly. Arrears will start to be deducted from your pay from that point on.

Members who are working in PSAC-represented positions and not paying union dues are asked to submit an online form to the employer or contact the call centre at 1-855-686-4729 (506-424-4330 if you are outside of the US or Canada). Find out more information on how to advise your employer of an incorrect pay.

Can I pay my arrears in a lump sum?

PSAC encourages its members to pay their arrears through the employer’s pay system. This allows for arrears to be correctly reflected on our members’ T4 slips.  It also avoids any potential doubling of efforts. A pay advisor, unaware that arrears are paid via cheque directly to PSAC, may inadvertently try to collect the unpaid dues a second time through deductions on your pay.

Why am I only paying $40 a month in dues when some of my colleagues are paying much more? Will I owe arrears?

PSAC has provided guidance to pay advisors to start the union dues for our members at a default amount of $40/month (or $20/pay). Normally, the correction from $40 to the correct amount is completed within 3 months.  Since Phoenix launched, many members have seen their monthly dues “frozen” at $40/month.

Members in this situation will owe back dues or arrears. As stated above, PSAC has a policy to not recover more than the value of one year’s worth of union dues and will not recover the amount owing as a lump sum, unless the amount owing is less than the correct monthly dues. Members in this situation will experience an increase in their union dues as of November 14, 2018.

Example:  A member should be paying $90 in dues per month but has been only paying the default dues amount of $40 per month. This has been going on for 14 months. The total amount owing is the difference of $50 x 14 months, or $700. Per the PSAC policy, the maximum of a year’s worth of union dues at $90 x 12 months is $1,080 in dues. The amount owing in arrears is $700 ($50 x 14 months) and falls lower than the one-year equivalency worth of union dues. If the amount owing was more than $1,080, PSAC would not recover more than the $1,080 from the member.

The member should see the following occur:

November 14 pay:  $45 in dues (half of the correct dues of $90); $90 in arrears ($610 left owing from the initial $700 owing).

November 28 pay:  $45 in dues (other half of correct dues of $90)

December 12 pay:  $45 in dues and $90 in arrears ($520 left owing).

December 26 pay:  $45 in dues.

This process will continue until the balance of dues that are owed has been paid.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

I was hired in May 2016, but union dues have never been deducted from my pay. Will my union dues start as of November 14, 2018 pay?  Why haven’t I been paying union dues?  How much in arrears will I have to pay?

It is the responsibility of the employer to start and stop union dues in their pay system.PSAC does not have the direct ability to do this. Many members who were hired during the initial launch period of Phoenix have not had union dues deducted even though they’ve been continuously working in a PSAC-represented position.

The process starting on November 14, 2018 will only affect those for whom union dues are being deducted.  If you have never paid union dues, the process to correct this will take longer. Members who are working in represented positions and not paying union dues are asked to submit a Phoenix Feedback form to the Client Contact Centre or contact them at 855-686-4729 (506-424-4330 if you are outside of the US or Canada). Find out more information on how to advise your employer of an incorrect pay.

A pay advisor will manually start the dues in your pay profile and then will advise PSAC, in writing, of the period for which dues are owed by the member. A pay advisor has been instructed to not start the deductions for back dues owed without PSAC’s approval. PSAC will calculate the amount owing and will advise the Pay Centre accordingly. Deductions will start from that point on.

PSAC has a long-standing internal policy to not recover more than the equivalent value of one year’s worth of union dues. PSAC does not recover its arrears in a lump sum if the total amount owing is more than the equivalent of one month’s dues.

Example: A member was hired in March 2017, but union dues have never been started. The member should have been paying $80/ month in union dues. As of November 2018, the member would owe dues for 20 months or $1600. The value of one year’s worth of dues for this member is $960.  PSAC will only deduct a total of $960 in back dues, even though the amount owed is $1600. Once the employer has started the union dues and PSAC has authorized the start of the arrears recovery, those deductions will occur as follows:

First pay with correct union dues: $40 in regular dues plus $80 in back dues.

Second pay: $40 in regular dues.

This will continue until the total back dues are paid.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

I am owed a refund of my PSAC union dues. How much am I owed and how will I be repaid?

Affected members will fall into 2 categories for refunds:

Those who are owed a difference between what should have been deducted versus what was deducted; Those for whom union dues should have ceased when they stopped working in a PSAC-represented position.

Members who are owed a difference between what should have been deducted versus what was deducted:

The first category is like arrears in that PSAC has kept track of the amount of union dues it would have normally expected from a member versus how much it received.  Where the member overpaid, PSAC has kept track of the overpayment and will seek to have this amount refunded to the member via the pay system as of November 14, 2018.

Example: A member’s substantive position is a PM-04 and normally remits $75 in dues per month. In December 2015 (prior to the launch of Phoenix), the member accepted a one year acting PM-06 position where the dues were calculated at $90 per month. The acting assignment ended in December 2016.  Normally, the dues would have reverted to the PM-04 $75 monthly rate.  However, since PSAC was unable to communicate the decrease of union dues to the employer, the member has continued to pay $90/month in dues. The $15 difference per month is owed to the member.

The FULL value of the refund will be returned to the member on November 14, 2018. In this case, the refund is $165 ($15 difference per month for 11 months).

Members for whom union dues should have ceased when they stopped working in a PSAC-represented position:

Pay advisors will manually stop the dues in the member’s profile and then will seek an authorization from PSAC to refund the union dues. A pay advisor will not refund the union dues without PSAC’s authorization. PSAC will calculate the amount to be refunded and will authorize the employer to refund the amount accordingly.

Refund requests are handled by PSAC on a first-in, first-out basis and the volume of demand is quite high. Members who are working in non-PSAC represented positions and continue to pay union dues are asked to submit a Phoenix Feedback form to the Client Contact Centre or contact them at 1-855-686-4729 (506-424-433 if you are outside of the US or Canada). Find out more information on how to advise your employer of an incorrect.

The refund will be paid thru the pay system and not via cheque to the member. This allows for the T4 to be correct and protects against any doubling of effort which may end in further errors in a member’s pay. Authorized refunds resulting from the failures of the Phoenix pay system issued at their FULL value.

I transferred departments six months ago, but my union dues haven’t changed. Why not?

PSAC receives information about our members’ employing department from the employer as part of the dues process. The employer must fully complete the process of transferring the pay profile from one department to another.

PSAC is aware that given the ongoing situation with Phoenix, the compensation community is facing considerable backlogs in its work, including processing inter-departmental transfers. Once the transfer has been completed within the pay system, PSAC will receive the information it needs to also transfer the member from one local or Component to another.

This will prompt an evaluation of union dues as there might be a change in classification and/or Component/Local dues amount to be paid, and more importantly, it will ensure that members appear on the correct Component/Local monthly membership list.

I am seeing two union dues deductions on my pay. Am I paying to two unions simultaneously?

While represented employees are only supposed to pay union dues to the union that is actively representing them, it is possible under certain circumstances, that there is an overlap and dues are paid to two different unions at the same time.

Scenario 1: A member has accepted a new assignment that is represented by another union. It is possible that the ending of dues from the original union and the start of the dues to the new union isn’t timed correctly, and as such, dues are being deducted for both unions for the same month (or for a few months). In this event, a pay advisor will seek an authorization from the original union to refund the dues for the period where dues should not have been deducted in the first place.

Scenario 2: A member worked in a PSAC-represented position for six months in 2015 but did not pay union dues.  The member has since begun working in a position that is represented by another union.  The two deductions could be an arrears payment to PSAC for the six-month period missed in 2015 and the current dues being paid to the other union.

If neither of these examples answers the concern, members who are paying to two bargaining agents are asked to submit a Phoenix Feedback form to the Client Contact Centre or contact them at 1-855-686-4729 (506-424-4330 if you are outside of the US or Canada). Find out more information on how to advise your employer of an incorrect pay.

I am a member of PSAC but I’m not paid via the Phoenix pay system, do I have to be concerned about the November 14, 2018 date?

No. This process only affects members who are paid via the Phoenix pay system.

There have been new collective agreements signed since the launch of Phoenix.  Are my union dues based on the salaries in these agreements?

Since the launch of Phoenix in March 2016, many employers have reached new collective agreements with PSAC. Normally, PSAC would recalculate its union dues based on the new first step salaries and advise employers of the new amounts to be deducted by the Phoenix pay system. Due to Phoenix, PSAC has been unable to communicate these changes to the pay system. This means the dues are based on old salary levels.

PSAC’s goal is to ensure that the process to change dues in Phoenix is working properly before we make any further adjustments to union dues. We will ensure that the calculation of dues based on the new salaries does not cause any unnecessary arrears.

I completed PSAC’s “Application for Membership” but I haven’t received my new union card.  My local representative told me that I’m not in PSAC’s database. How can that be?

PSAC populates its membership database with the information it receives from employers. All dues paying members are added into PSAC’s database. If a member is not on the database, it is likely that no union dues are being deducted by the employer.

Members who are working in represented positions and not paying union dues are asked to submit a Phoenix Feedback form to the Client Contact centre or contact them at 1-855-686-4729 (506-424-4330 if you are outside of the US or Canada). Find out more information on how to advise your employer of an incorrect pay.

A pay advisor will manually start the dues in the member’s pay profile and then will advise PSAC, in writing, of the length of time when no dues were paid. A pay advisor has been instructed to not start deducting the back dues that are owed by the member without PSAC’s approval. PSAC will calculate the amount owing and will advise the Pay Centre accordingly. Deductions will start from that point on.

PSAC has a long-standing internal policy to not recover more than the equivalent of one year’s worth of union dues.  PSAC does not recover its arrears in a lump sum if the total amount owing is more than the equivalent of one month’s dues.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

I was a member in good standing of PSAC but my union dues have stopped. I have submitted a Pay Action Request (PAR) but while I wait for it to be actioned, I am concerned my membership has lapsed. What can I do?

In light of these special circumstances, PSAC has developed an online request form.  Affected members are asked to submit a request in order to maintain their membership in good standing.  Members can also follow up on the status of their PAR by contacting the Client Contact Centre at 855-686-4729 (506-424-4330 if you are outside of the US or Canada). 

I am concerned about how much money I potentially owe in arrears. Can I get a detailed account?

Letters to members with details about their specific dues’ situation will be sent out in November.  If you haven't received a letter, we may not have your correct mailing address.  You can check your address here. Most of our members owe a total of $300 or less in arrears and this may take a few months to fully recover.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information. 

We are handling a large volume of requests for information, so please be patient. You should expect a response within two or three weeks. More complicated requests will take longer.

 

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October 9, 2018
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