Membership Pays Off in Resolving Paycheck Issue

Association Steps In to Help Correct Two Miscalculated Payments for Lincoln Elementary Teacher

Her 30 years of Association membership paid off when NSEA member Jennifer Ungvarsky discovered her paycheck had been grossly miscalculated — twice.

At the start of 2020, Ungvarsky began participating in a high-deductible health savings plan to save for the future. Her goal was to save as much tax-free money as she could as quickly as she could. While she expected the HSA to grow in value, she didn’t expect her February paycheck to triple.

“My paycheck ended up being three times what it normally would be without putting anything into the HSA,” said Ungvarsky, a third-grade teacher at Lincoln’s Cavett Elementary School and a member of the Lincoln Education Association and NSEA.

The error threw off not only her bank account, but her withholding amounts for the HSA, taxes and FICA.

She knew she had to do something to correct the problem but wasn’t sure where to start. The paycheck arrived on a Friday. She opened it on Saturday and panicked because she hadn’t checked it sooner. By the time she discovered the error the school district payroll office was closed.

“I didn’t even know where to start or who to start calling,” Ungvarsky said.

Association Takes Lead

She contacted the payroll department the following Monday, then called Rita Bennett, president of the Lincoln Education Association.

“She immediately got on it. She called them and sent emails,” Ungvarsky said.

Bennett said she was trying to accurately document the errors in the messages.

Since Ungvarsky’s hours as a teacher closely mirror the payroll department’s hours, she was not able to receive their return calls or reach out to them during the school day. That’s where Bennett stepped in to resolve the issue for her.

Ungvarsky wrote a check back to Lincoln Public Schools, then received her correct pay two weeks later. All was well until April, when she received another incorrect paycheck, this time for several months’ worth of pay.

“Rita…she is getting probably 5,000 calls a day…she jumped on it and she had it solved by that afternoon,” Ungvarsky said. “I was so thankful. I never had to go to battle. I never had to make phone calls.”

Ungvarsky said the miscalculations were nobody’s fault. A computer glitch in LPS’ new payroll system, which the district began using in September 2019, caused the disruptions.

“One thing we have continued to emphasize to members is the importance of examining their pay stub promptly and carefully every month,” Bennett said.

Efforts Appreciated

Ungvarsky echoed Bennett’s thoughts, and urged educators to review their paychecks on a regular basis to make sure all pay and withholding amounts are correct.

“If you don’t see it, you don’t know it,” Ungvarsky said.

She appreciated Bennett’s quick response and said having somebody else who knew who to call, who could do the footwork for her, saved so much time and trouble.

“She had the professionalism to deal with it. She had the know-how. She knew who to contact and what to say to get it going,” Ungvarsky said.

Ungvarsky said maintaining her membership over the years was key to resolving the problem quickly.

“I’ve been an NSEA and LEA member, and in my 30th year teaching, I think I’ve used Association services once before. Having this taken care of was worth all 30 years of it.”