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June 12 2012 FEA Pacific Update

JUNE 12, 2012
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director


Area Director Update
Many Thanks
Summer Information
MyPay and Summer Letters
Good bye Grievance and Graduate Credits for MA+15/30
Fall FRS and Joint Labor Management Training
FEA Annual Membership Meeting and NEA Representative Assembly
Do you know the Negotiated Agreement?
Principal Assignments
Check those Dates
Legal Eagle Corner
Mark Your Calendars
Other Tidbits


Area Director End of Year Message: Another school year has reached its end. Our students are eager to begin their summer fun and our teachers are ready for a well deserved break to rejuvenate, reflect, and spend time with friends and loved ones. Much has been added to your plate this school year. You have once again met the challenges. Thank you.

To those teachers retiring, I want thank you for your dedication to the students and your profession. I wish you the best in your next journey. May it be better than you could have ever imagined. To those teachers separating, I wish you the best wherever you find yourself. Hopefully, we will find you back with us in the near future.


Many Thanks: Where to begin with the kudos? I have been fortunate in working with very supportive local school leaders, FEA Headquarters staff and with our General Counsel Michael Bauernfeind and Assistant UniServ Stephanie Trotter. The District Presidents, Jeannette Ferguson, Don Kinghorn, Betty Gossett and Joan Oana (they shared Korea this year) have represented you well and kept me moderately sane. Our Human and Civil Rights Coordinators Yvonne Brown, Chad Jimison, and Michael Johnson have worked hard on your behalf and provided a great HCRC program this year. Finally, we have a membership that is unequaled in the Federal Sector for dedication and solidarity. 85% of the DODDS professional work force are Association members. Despite lingering criticism that seems to hang over public education, student achievement in DODDS is exemplary. These results come from a diverse and dedicated Association membership. Take a bow and be proud of what we accomplish!


Summer Information: Like you, my summer vacation will begin soon. I will check my Outlook and private account throughout the summer. Michael Bauernfeind and Stephanie Trotter will be on break for the month of July. The FEA Office will be open during the summer and following the NEA summer hours: 8 AM until 5 PM, Monday through Thursday beginning July 6th through August 31st as FEA's office is located in the NEA building. Contact information for FEA HQ, Michael Bauernfeind and for me are in your FEA pocket calendars.


MyPay and Summer Letters: Assistant UniServ Stephanie Trotter handles pay record problems for FEA Pacific. Repeating what she advised last summer, do take the time to access MyPay during the recess. If deductions are coming out of your pay you should be prepared to contact the UniServ office by email. Debts are created many times by overlapping TQSA and LQA during the summer, so check MyPay. If you are able to check your mail, watch out for DFAS notification that your account has been reconciled showing a valid debt. You can be sure that deductions will begin shortly thereafter. With these warnings I am hoping that you will take action to protect your paycheck over the summer. Ms. Trotter writes:
Anyone who receives a debt letter has 70 days to respond (thanks to Mike), so you should encourage educators to check their mail boxes as soon as they return. We will be back in the office on August 1st so we will be ready and waiting to provide assistance to anyone who has received a letter over the summer.


Goodbye Grievance: If you are retiring, separating, moving to the Med or DDESS, please file a Goodbye Grievance. Your FRS has access to the form grievance. This will help to protect your money from offset and garnishment by DFAS.

Graduate Credits for MA + 15/30: Europe General Counsel Bill Freeman was able to confirm the validity of filing a good by grievance as a result of Arbitrator Sands' decision recently. In the same decision Sands concluded that DODDS has been improperly setting pay for the masters pay lane by not including all graduate course work for pay purposes. The following memo is being distributed in the Pacific regarding an Association Grievance in the style of a class action.
Date: Mon, Jun 11, 2012 at 9:10 PM
Subject: Graduate Credit Earned Before Masters Now Counts Retroactively and Prospectively Toward MA+15 and MA+30
Hello all,

Please give this the widest dissemination possible. Besides validating the Goodbye Grievance as a "Lifeline," Arbitrator Sands recently held that DoDDS has been wrongfully granting Pay Lane credit for MA+15 and MA+30 for many years. DoDDS has been wrongfully granting only graduate credit earned AFTER the first Master's Degree was awarded. He made it clear that "graduate credit is graduate credit," regardless of when it is earned. This will result in a great deal of well-deserved money for MANY of our members in Europe and the Pacific. Under a best case scenario, it could total $35,000 in back pay and interest so far. It will also result in a higher "high three" for MANY retirement computations. Here is the typical example of those who now qualify retroactively and prospectively: A teacher earns graduate credit to maintain certification and later earns a Master's Degree, in which that certification graduate credit was not counted. The same will apply to anyone who earns graduate credit not counted toward the Master's Degree. We are in the early stages of identifying those affected and need your help. For now, if you think you could qualify, gather all of your transcripts this summer. The credits must be identified on the transcripts as "graduate credit." We will be coming out with more instructions on what to do next fall. If you will not be in either the FEA-Pacific or FEA-Europe Areas next fall, file and elevate a Goodbye Grievance now and keep copies of everything in order to preserve your rights. Everyone have a GREAT summer!

Bill Freeman
FEA Europe General Counsel


FEA Pacific Fall FRS and Joint Labor Management Training Dates:
Japan: September 13 -- FRS 14 -- JLMT
Okinawa: September 17 --JLMT 18- FRS
Korea: September 20 -- FRS 21 -- JLMT


FEA Annual Membership Meeting and NEA Representative Assembly: The FEA delegation will be staying at the Fairmont Hotel, which will also be the site of the FEA annual meeting. All FEA members are welcome to attend the annual meeting on 29 & 30 June. The NEA Representative Assembly is held July 1-5. To find out more, contact your District President. Each district has an elected delegate to represent you at the RA and annual meeting. Let the delegates know your concerns.


Principal Assignments: If I receive an updated listing before 15 June I will disseminate to you all.


Check those Dates: There are days when I feel that our lives are controlled by dates. Please take a peek at the many date controlled requirements such as your ID, driver's license, teaching certification, insurance, passport, etc.


Do you know the Negotiated Agreement? Article 8 covers Staffing Procedures. Section 3 details teaching assignments:
An on-board unit employee who plans to return to the same school the following school year shall be notified of his/her teaching assignment and number of classes prior to the close of the current school year. Changes in such assignments will be limited to unexpected changes in curriculum, mission, staffing, and recruitment actions.


Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner:

I've gone fishin'! Well, not until 1 July. The Association lawyers are obligated to work 220 days a year. This means that we also get a one month recess period.
1. Pacific Area Leadership Council -- The FEA is a non-profit corporation certified by the Federal Labor Relations Authority as a Federal labor organization. The FEA Board of Directors is comprised of at large officers and the Area Directors of Europe, DDESS and the Pacific. The "CEO" is FEA President Michael Priser. The BOD is the highest level governing body of the FEA.

In the Pacific as in Europe there is a governing council. For us we have the PAL Council. This council is comprised of the District Presidents from Japan, Okinawa and Korea and the Area Director Debra Degalis, the "CEO" of the Pacific. All major decisions that affect the operation of the Association in the Pacific are made by the PAL Council.

Each District President is in turn the "CEO" of a local association, where all major decisions are made by a governing council or board. These locals have acronyms like NEATA, TEAK and AEAO.

There you have it in a nutshell. Test will be in the morning.

2. Shipping Excess Baggage on RAT -- In case you have not heard, Director Fitzgerald just issued a memorandum clarifying your right to mail up to 100 pounds of excess baggage home for the summer. This baggage is limited to items that you will need for the summer, like clothing and possibly your surf board! Sending household goods back to the States is prohibited. It is not known at this point whether priority mail costs will be fully reimbursed. Using FedEx or other private companies may be the best way to insure that packages are delivered on time.

Here are highlights from the 1 June memo:
Each traveler on Renewal Agreement Travel (RAT) orders is authorized to ship up to 100 pounds per person of excess baggage (baggage in addition to what is allowed by the airlines), which should include items necessary for the RAT trip. Many employees opt to mail their excess baggage and get reimbursed after they complete their travel and file their travel vouchers.

Defense Finance and Accounting Service no longer requires a cost statement from TMO for reimbursement of your mailing costs. Employees will still need to include receipts for any mailings with their travel voucher. The receipts must show the actual weight of each package shipped. Please note that extra costs, such as optional insurance, are not reimbursable.

3. Child Abuse -- There have been 15 allegations of child abuse against members just this school year. Most are resolved fairly quickly. Others linger for weeks or longer before being resolved. In 1999, I was able to bring FEA bargaining proposals to the Federal Service Impasses Panel in Washington, DC. The result of the bargaining was an MOU, which confirms major rights for Association members. Here are some of those rights:
a. The right to be notified of the allegations made against the employee, normally within one working day of the initial report of the allegation.

b. The right to have union representation during any investigative interview by persons acting on behalf of the Agency, to include any military investigative personnel.

c. When interviewed by persons outside of the school, the employee has the right to have the interview conducted away from the school site.

d. Where an allegation of child abuse is unsubstantiated, the employee has the right to a letter documenting the disposition of the allegation of abuse if requested by the employee.

e. Observe the confidentiality and privacy right of employees accused of child abuse in accordance with the Privacy Act.

f. Return employees detailed from their normal teaching assignments because of an allegation of child abuse to their normal assignment if the investigation of the allegation is not completed within 60 days.

g. The parties further acknowledge that an educator's use of reasonable force to restrain a student is appropriate to prevent the student from harming himself or herself, harming others or destroying property. Appropriate use of physical restraint under these circumstances is neither child abuse nor corporal punishment.


There are even more protections included within this important MOU.

4. Retirement - When you retire what happens with your unused educator leave? Once you meet the age and service requirements to retire, your unused sick leave will increase the amount of your annuity.

For those under CSRS, all unused educator leave creditable towards your annuity.

Historically, FERS employees were barred from getting any credit for their unused leave upon retirement. The law has changed. Now members retiring up to 31 December 2013 will get half-credit for unused leave. Teachers retiring after that date will get full credit. This is an important date to keep in mind. It does take a lot of unused educator leave to dramatically boost your retirement annuity. For example, a year's worth of leave translates into a one percentage point increase in your FERS annuity.

For both CSRS and FERS educator leave can be used to increase your annuity. However, it cannot be used to meet the age and service requirements for retirement itself.


Mark Your Calendars
  • June 14 Flag Day

  • June 14 End of Fourth Quarter/2nd Semester

  • June 15 Teacher's Last Workday

  • June 17 Father's Day

  • June 29-30 FEA Annual Membership Meeting, Washington, D.C.

  • August 22 Teachers Report

  • August 27 Students First Day

OTHER TIDBITS



Thanks to NEA Director for FEA, Brian Chance for the American Embassy Tokyo Newsletter June 2012 information below. Subscribe at: http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/tacs-main.html#newsletter.
Bringing Medication to Japan

During the heavy travel season, the U.S. Embassy receives numerous inquiries about how to bring prescription and over-the-counter medications and pharmaceuticals to Japan. The U.S. Embassy in Japan's website (http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-medimport.html) has a general overview of this issue. However, as Japan's pharmaceutical importation and control laws are complex and very strict, we encourage all travelers who are planning to bring medications to Japan to consult directly with Japanese government officials for authoritative information on rules and regulations regarding importing medication. Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare has additional information here: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/import/index.html.

Those residing in Japan should also understand that importation regulations also apply to medications and pharmaceuticals ordered online or by mail, and delivered to Japan. The recipients of any delivered medications are held responsible for adhering to drug importation laws. As individuals arrested for the illegal importation of restricted or controlled substances to Japan often face stiff fines, imprisonment, and deportation, we strongly encourage all travelers to understand Japanese drug importation laws prior to travelling to Japan. For more information on items that are prohibited from importation to Japan, please visit the Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau website here: http://www.customs.go.jp/english/summary/prohibit.htm

TELL--Tokyo English Life Line

Living overseas can be stressful. If you, or someone you care about feel overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) offers free, anonymous telephone counseling including confidential crisis counseling and non-judgmental emotional support. Call 03-5774-0992 daily from 9am-11pm for assistance. TELL Counseling Center offers face-to-face counseling in Tokyo and Yokohama in English, Japanese and other languages by professional, qualified therapists on a flexible-fee basis. Call 03-4550-1146 (English line) or 03-4550-1147 (Japanese line).

For more details about the support services offered by TELL, please visit their website at http://www.telljp.com/.

Earthquake Safety and Preparedness - Living in Older Buildings

As part of personal routine earthquake and disaster planning, Americans residing in Japan may consider researching the construction dates of their residence buildings. In 1981, the Japanese government revised the building code in order to ensure that future buildings are built more resilient against earthquakes. Experts agree that buildings built after 1981, especially those constructed after 2001, are better able to withstand large magnitude earthquakes. As many buildings built before 1981 do not have these safeguards in place, the value, and rent of these properties may sometimes be substantially lower than those that meet the seismic design standards set forth by the Architectural Institute of Japan (AIJ). U.S. citizens living in a building constructed prior to 1981 might consider inquiring whether the building has gone through renovations to make it compliant with the 1981 building code.

You can visit the U.S. Embassy's webpage on Earthquake preparedness (http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-7111.html) for tips on how to proactively prepare for earthquakes. Also, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site (http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm) for additional information on how to prepare for disasters.

Stay Informed: FEA and NEA provide a wealth of information to you. Remember to have your membership ID ready in order to access information for members only. You will find your ID number on your membership card. Instructions for new members to gain access to feaonline.org are at http://feaonline.org/passport/

NEA Websites you can use:


NEA Web site
NEA Academy
NEA Member Benefits
NEA Health Information Network
bNetS@vvy

Yen and Won Rates: To check the rates go to this site

Until next school year,

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director