Over the past few weeks, I have received a few emails regarding union dues and whether the Union could give a dues holiday at the current time.
First, I believe it is important to understand the union dues structure. Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge deduct union dues from your monthly pay cheque and remit the dues to the Component. The Component is then responsible for remitting a “per capita” payment to CUPE National. The Component is also responsible for sending the five Locals of the Air Canada Component their monthly budgets which are set out in the Component Bylaws. The remaining dues are used by the Component to pay our staff, lawyers, committee members, and a variety of overhead costs.
Last week I reached out to the CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer requesting a dues holiday on our per capita remittance so that we could in turn lower union dues or give a complete dues holiday. This is similar in nature as to how WIP does the odd dues holiday. I received a reply yesterday, which you can read HERE. In essence, the Component cannot unilaterally reduce dues or provide a dues holiday, as the CUPE constitution sets a minimum due structure and any changes in union dues requires a membership Bylaw referendum and approval of the National President.
It is important to note that we operate on a percentage dues structure. This means that members who have their hours or earnings reduced will see a corresponding reduction in the dues they pay. The Component Bylaws set union dues at 1.5% of gross income, and this is why earnings received under the CEWS program will be subject to union dues as they are income from the employer. For those on the CERB program, union dues will not be collected as you are not on the Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge payroll.
I have also received questions about the strike fund. The strike fund is managed by CUPE National and is for the explicit purpose of supporting members on strike. Many other CUPE locals and sectors are in bargaining and need a strong strike fund to back them up at the table. The strike fund also covers other costs such as strike averting and support campaign costs, as well as interest arbitration and legal costs. Even if the funds were given directly to members, CUPE would be required to withhold taxes at the source, and these would need to be declared by the recipient, which could in turn reduce government assistance. It is also important to note that we have not lost our right to strike in the future, we have that right, and if we strike we will need to demonstrate to the employer that we have a strong strike fund to carry us forward. This we have, and if we need to use it in 2025, we will have full access as established in the CUPE Constitution.
I hope this provides some clarity on the situation and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have further questions.
Secretary-Treasurer, Air Canada Component of CUPE