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Management Trying To Impose New Contracts on Stateside, Overseas Schools

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: FEA Washington DC Office
RE: Management Seeking to Impose New Contracts on Bargaining Units
DATE: August 2, 2018

DoDEA wants to impose a new contract of FEA's Stateside bargaining unit and will eventually try to do the same to our Overseas unit, using the politically appointed Federal Services Impasses Panel (FSIP) to legitimize the effort.

Under existing labor law, there will be little FEA can do if DoDEA management goes through with the plan and the FSIP agrees to intervene, but of course we will continue pursuing every possibility of dissuading them from taking this harmful action.

FEA's Stateside Region (FEA-SR) has been trying to renegotiate a new contract for Stateside educators for years. The process has repeatedly been derailed by management tricks and attempts to create an impasse, despite FEA-SR's ongoing willingness to bargain a new contract to completion.

This summer, DoDEA informed FEA-SR it would no longer work toward completion of a new contract with the aide of a federally appointed mediator. Instead, it intends to ask the FSIP to declare an impasse and take jurisdiction over the contract.

In doing so, the FSIP would have the option, under federal law, to impose a new contract. That contract could be based entirely upon the proposals of either side (DoDEA or FEA-SR) or a combination of the two sides' proposals. Or, the FSIP could even throw out both sides' proposals and impose terms of its own creation.

The current members of the FSIP were all appointed by President Trump and have shown a clear tendency to side with management thus far in settling disputes brought before it.

Under federal law, either management or labor can appeal to the FSIP to take jurisdiction of a contract negotiation at any time if they believe they have reached an impasse. It is the option of the FSIP to take jurisdiction or tell the parties they have not reached an impasse and they should resume bargaining. Although FEA believes the parties have not reached a true impasse with management, the decision will rest with the politically appointed members of the FSIP. If they decide to take jurisdiction, FEA and management will be legally obligated to abide by the decision they make regarding a new contract for Stateside.

The parties' arguments will be presented to the FSIP to make a decision regarding jurisdiction on September 11. A decision will likely be issued shortly thereafter.

In addition to the threat to Stateside employees, management has given every indication it intends to ask the FSIP to also impose harsh ground rules on the bargaining of a new contract for FEA's Overseas bargaining unit and will use those unreasonable ground rules to seek another impasse declaration from the FSIP after a minimum of negotiating with FEA on a new Overseas contract. As with the Stateside contract, the FSIP, if it declares an impasse and takes jurisdiction over that process, would be able to impose any contract terms it wishes on the FEA Overseas bargaining unit.

The damage management's actions will do to employee relations and morale in DoDEA schools will be immense. DoDEA has already dropped to the bottom five percent of Federal workplaces in terms of employee satisfaction (ranked #322 out of 339 sub agencies in the 2017 survey, available here). Imposing harsh new contracts -- which, we expect, will seek to lengthen the duty day without additional compensation and weaken due-process procedures, among other harmful changes -- will only drive current employees to leave the system and make it harder to recruit quality replacements.

DoDEA management still has the option to return to the table and bargain a legitimate and mutually agreeable contract with its employees. FEA-SR stands ready to resume negotiations at any time. We call upon DoDEA management to revoke its request for the FSIP to take jurisdiction and impose a new contract. Such a move will irrevocably damage DoDEA as a school system and inevitably lead to a decline in quality for students and their families.

FEA will be working on a plan of action for members to voice their sense of anger and betrayal over these actions by management.