Lesson 1 – Percentages and fractions

Lesson 1 – Percentages and fractions

As a union secretary-treasurer or trustee, your role is to keep track of your local’s financial matters. You are accountable to members.

Quite often, you will need to calculate percentages. For example, per capita payments to CUPE National are calculated at the rate of 0.85 per cent.

Union dues rates are also calculated as a percentage, for example, at 1.5 per cent of regular salary.

Calculating percentages can be tricky. This course will take you through two ways to convert percentages to decimal numbers.

You can practice along using a pen, paper and a calculator.

What does per cent mean?

The word per cent can be divided into two parts: Per and Cent.

Per means “for each group “and Cent means “equal to 100.”

So per cent means “for every group of 100”.

Example: union dues

The average CUPE union dues rate is 1.5 per cent of salary.

This means that $1.50 will be paid in union dues for every $100 of salary. 

How do you calculate the dues to be paid if you earn $1,000?

Here’s how:

1.5 per cent is a fraction. The percentage sign (%) is just a shorter way to write the fraction “1.5 over 100.”

One way to calculate what dues are owing for my salary of $1,000 is to convert the 1.5 per cent into a number with a decimal.

To do this, we begin by removing the percentage sign and move the decimal point two places to the left:

Start with  1.5%

Drop the per cent sign  1.5

Move the decimal one place  .15

And then move it again  .015  

Notice that we added a zero so we could move the decimal two places?

Now, let’s go to Lesson 2.