Union demands bonus for dues-deduction snafu

Collectivists: Never again

The faculty union at Youngstown State University wants the university to pay a financial penalty to every union member who received an incorrect paycheck Friday. The union presented a grievance to the university Friday, arguing that YSU should pay each affected party 5 percent of the gross amount of their individual check for the snafu as a deterrent to it happening again, said Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, chairman of the faculty grievance committee.

Palmer-Fernandez said some faculty received checks with just zeros on them while others received checks for the proper salary amount, but without the required federal tax deductions. Still others received both, he said.

Eugene P. Grilli, YSU vice president for finance and administration, said the problem was caused by “a glitch” in the new system handling payroll, but no one missed a payday.

The payroll department ran supplemental checks as soon as the problem was realized, though the checks did lack the normal federal withholding deductions, Grilli said.

Some employees take all of their pay in 18 twice-monthly pay periods during the course of the school year, while some spread their pay over 24 periods covering the entire calendar year, he said.

The glitch occurred when the new system encountered the switch from the 18 to the 24 pay periods for the first time with the end of the current school year, Grilli said.

The system was tested earlier but failed in the actual production phase, he said.

The next payroll will be in mid-June, and it is hoped the problem has been resolved, he said, adding, “We’re asking everyone to have patience with the system.”

Palmer-Fernandez said Friday’s problems were just the latest in a series of payroll difficulties that have also affected YSU employees besides faculty. The union believes the problems go beyond just a glitch, he said, adding that it appears to be more systemic because problems pre-date the new system.

“It’s a total, absolute mess,” he said.

In addition to the 5 percent penalty it wants for each affected faculty member, the union grievance asks for a 5 percent penalty for delays in the transfer of union dues deducted from faculty checks to be sent to their union, the Ohio Education Association.

That money goes into an OEA interest-bearing account and the delays in transferring those funds have resulted in lost interest, said Dr. Nancy White, faculty union president. The 5 percent penalty on the amount of those dues is to cover the loss, she said, adding that there have been delays twice so far this calendar year.

The grievance further asks for an audit of all affected OEA paychecks, deductions and deduction transmittals to other agencies as well as a report of all that went wrong with Friday’s payroll, Palmer-Fernandez said.

Grilli said the university has not yet responded to the grievance.

Palmer-Fernandez said the union argued a grievance two months ago claiming the university failed to make timely transfers of tax-deferred employee contributions to their investment accounts, money that was deducted from their paychecks.

“We’re working on a resolution,” Grilli said, noting that an outside auditor is looking into the issue.

Palmer-Fernandez said the university paid a $175,000 penalty last year to the state Public Employees Retirement System for failing to transfer retirement funds on time.

Grilli said that case stemmed from two employees who moved from the State Teachers Retirement System to the Public Employees Retirement System in 1980, but the retirement funds kept going to STRS. The error wasn’t discovered until one of those two people retired, he said.

The $175,000 was the bulk of the interest that PERS lost over that period, Grilli said.


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