Session With FSIP Yields Some Agreements, Other Issues Head To Panel

Tentative agreements reached this week between FEA's Stateside Region (FEA-SR) and DoDEA would allow for only limited increases in work hours per academic quarter, preserve the promise of weekly allotted planning time, and make increases in Stateside salary schedules proportional to increases in the GS schedule.

Two marathon sessions this week between FEA-SR and DoDEA, overseen by a member of the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP), produced those tentative agreements.

The existing Stateside Master Labor Agreement and all its provisions, including those governing pay, the workday, and planning time, still remain in effect. The tentative agreements reached this week are intended to be included in a new Stateside contract, but such a document remains a work in progress.

Other disputed issues, including whether Stateside employees can be compelled to make up cancelled school days without added compensation and whether prep time should be mandatory for educators reassigned to new classrooms and/or subjects, could not be agreed on during this week's sessions.

Those issues that remain in dispute will be presented to the full FSIP at a future meeting and that panel will issue a ruling as to how those issues should be addressed in the new contract. The FSIP's decision is final and binding on both parties to the contract.

We expect the FSIP to make its decision on all remaining contract issues by early in 2019. Once it does so, the new contract would go through a review process by the Department of Defense and then, barring any technicalities, be signed by both parties and then implemented. Again, the existing DDESS MLA remains in effect until that new contract is finalized and implemented.

Although FEA-SR did not win on all the disputed issues, it managed to soften management's stand on several, for example:

  • Management wanted to extend the duty day in all Stateside schools by one hour per day, for a total of 190 additional hours per year of required on-site time with no additional compensation. At the urging of the FSIP panel member, FEA-SR and DoDEA agreed to a limit of no more than 24 total hours per academic quarter of additional required on-site time, with a maximum of one additional hour on any given day. Management must provide at least three days notice to employees before requiring such additional on-site time. No additional pay will be provided, however, for this added time.
  • Regarding salaries, management came to the sessions this week with a new proposal to eliminate the locality pay schedules for schools at Dahlgren/Quantico and West Point. FEA-SR was able to preserve those locality pay schedules. The two sides agreed that future increases to the existing Stateside salary schedules will be at the same percentage as increases to the GS schedule. Please note: this does not mean Stateside educators will be paid on the GS schedule; it means whatever percentage the GS schedule goes up in a year will be the same percentage applied to the Stateside schedules. Those Stateside schedules will retain their current salary lanes and numbers of steps and employees will continue to receive a step increase each year.
  • In an important win for preserving the quality of education in our schools, FEA-SR was able to retain the guarantee of 225 minutes per week of planning time for educators. DoDEA wanted to eliminate that guarantee, which would have allowed management to impose additional duties during planning time.
  • FEA-SR was able to retain the current full day per academic quarter to be used for recording grades. Management sought to reduce that grading time to one-half day per quarter.

The full FSIP will decide at a future meeting between FEA-SR's and management's positions on several major issues on which agreement could not be reached, including:

  • Whether management can schedule make up days due to inclement weather or other emergencies without having to pay employees for those added days.
  • Whether management should be required, as they are under the current MLA, to provide a minimum amount of planning time to an educator moved or reassigned to a new classroom or grade/subject, in order to give that educator time to set up a room, familiarize herself/himself with new materials, etc.
  • Whether management can mandate that graduate credits earned by employees will not count towards that employees salary unless they are earned after the employee has obtained her/his masters degree, thus negating FEA-SR's recent arbitration win in a case on this issue.

What was clear to the members of the FEA-SR bargaining team was that the priority of management's team was not improving education; it was strengthening management's authority over its employees. Management's negotiators included no educators and clearly had no understanding of education issues or how the issues they were asking the FSIP to impose on the contract would negatively impact student learning. They simply did not care! Throughout the meetings, management's negotiators repeatedly made clear they would not compromise with FEA-SR on any issue unless the FSIP panel member overseeing the session required them to do so.

Although the compromises reached this week are far from ideal, the FEA-SR team judged them to be the best possible option, given the stringently anti-worker/anti-education positions of management and the fact any unresolved issues would be judged by an FSIP that was entirely appointed by Donald Trump and has shown an overwhelming tendency to side with management when ruling on contract language.

As mentioned above, the remaining issues in the contract negotiation will now go to the full FSIP for resolution and a decision from that body would likely come by early 2019. The new contract would, presumably, be finalized within about 30 days of that FSIP decision.

The existing MLA between FEA-SR and DoDEA and all its current provisions, including those covering topics in the tentative agreements outlined above, remain in effect until that new contract is implemented, which will likely happen sometime in 2019.

We will continue to update our members of any new developments in the contract negotiations. Thanks to all members for their support thus far in this process and for your ongoing patience as the new contract is finalized.