September 28 2009 FEA Pacific Update

September 28, 2009
Debra Degalis, FEA Pacific Area Director

Area Director Update
Association Visits, JLMT and FRS Trainings, Meetings Schedule
What is FEA doing for YOU
Task Force Groups, Trainings, Volunteers
LES and SF 50
Medical Billing
Important Documents and Papers
Private E-mail address
Legal Eagle Corner
Other Tidbits

Welcome! - I realize you have read enough welcome greetings to last a lifetime, but I would feel remiss if I did not at least begin with a very belated welcome back or welcome to the Pacific for those to new to the area. You now have a month behind you, and I know each and every one of you is determined to make this the best year ever for the students.

Area Director Update - I'm at a loss as where to begin. Across the DoDEA system, we have been inundated with mandatory and new trainings, restructuring changes, the latest and greatest jargon, revised standards, new textbooks, hurry up that order that was due next week but must be submitted at the end of the day, violations of Memo of Understandings (MOU) and of course our contract, the Negotiated Agreement. Through all this unnecessary frenzy, the DoDDS and DDESS educators have kept their focus, which is educating the children. Navigating the DoDEA system as a DoDDS employee, it is difficult enough in the calmest of years. My first 2009-2010 update could be ten pages or more due to the onslaught by HQ, but I will attempt to provide updates and useful information as succinctly as possible, because I know you don't have time for ten pages!

Association Visits, Joint Labor Management, FRS Training, Meetings Schedule - FEA President, Michael Priser is arriving in mainland Japan, Monday night, 28 September. Michael and I will visit the Zama, Yokosuka and Yokota complex this week. Michael will also travel to Iwakuni on 5 October, Monday, and I hope to join him on this visit if at all possible. After these visits, we will depart for the FRS (Faculty Representative Spokesperson) and JLMT (Joint Labor Management Training) trainings in the three districts. Check with your FRS about the times we will be at your school. Below area the dates and times of the general meeting that all members can attend to hear Michael.
  • Zama Complex: Tuesday, 29 September: 3:30 at Arnn, in room 113 --open to all members
  • Yokosuka Complex: Wednesday, 30 September: 3:15 at Yokosuka MS Cafeteria- "
  • Yokota Complex: Thursday, 1 October: 3:00 at Yokota HS in the Lecture Hall
  • Iwakuni Complex: Monday, 5 October: 3:15 at Information Center
  • Osan Complex: Friday, 9 October

Other visitors during the three district trainings will be HT Nguyen, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel, Michael Bauernfeind, FEA Pacific Uniserv Director, and in Japan we will have a national leader visitor, Lily Eskelsen, NEA Vice President. She will address both the Association and Management leaders at the JLMT. FEA is fortunate to have such great friends and support from NEA.
  • Korea-Yongsan: Thursday, 8 October: JLMT - Friday, 9 October: FRS Training
  • Okinawa- Camp Foster: Tuesday,12 October: JLMT Wednesday, 13 October: FRS Training
  • Japan-New Sanno: Thursday, 15 October: FRS Training Friday, 16 October: JLMT

Squeezed between the trainings, the Pacific Area Leaders will meet in Korea for our fall PAL Council meeting. To top off the whirlwind visits, meetings and trainings, the FEA Executive Leaders will be holding the Fall Annual Board of Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C. the following week.
  • Korea-Yongsan: 10-12 October- PAL Council Meeting
  • Washington, DC: 19-22 October- FEA Board of Directors Meeting

What is FEA doing for YOU? DoDEA HQ has mandated a number of changes. Many of DoDEA HQ's decisions and actions are not in the best interest of the children. In the process many of these changes have been implemented without negotiating as required in our contract. Since management has been unwilling to negotiate, FEA has filed a number of Association Grievances. Recently filed grievances involve the following: unilaterally mandated changes to school schedules, violation of MOU on Gradespeed, Implementation of new English Language Arts program, preparation periods, and failure to reimburse and/or compensate educators for EXCENT and ASPEN.

FEA leaders on the state, area and district level have been sending guidance to your FRS on how to handle the issues that have been raised by management's actions. Please carefully review the Legal Updates, FEA President Reports and guidance sent from Michael Bauernfeind and me. It is especially important for you to carefully document all your time spent during your preparation periods as well as before and after school as well as a description of the activities that do not allow you to prepare for your students. When management requires training and activities such as CSI and team meetings, management should provide time within the duty day, not your preparation time. Please talk to your FRS if you are not sure what you should do. Go to FEA's online website for updates, guidance and links. Remember to have your membership ID number handy.

Task Force Groups, Training and Volunteers - Most of you are aware that HQ is forming four more task groups: 21st Century Steering Committee, Early Childhood Education (ECE), Middle School , and Scheduling - to address: staffing, instructional day, seminar period, block scheduling/7 period day, and instructional related period (IRP). Several trainings were held in September and it took the Pacific members to notify me, so I could quickly arrange for one of the participants to be a FEA representative. FEA has contacted HQ. I will be sending an application form to your FRS, so members that are willing to be a FEA Representative on Pacific and/or State trainings, committees, etc. can apply.

Leave and Earnings Statements (LES), Standard Form 50 (SF 50), etc. - Please carefully review your LES and SF50s. Compare them with previous versions. Errors do occur. Your secretary/payroll clerk is your local point of contact. Your FRS is often an expert on understanding these forms or he/she can point you in the right direction. I will be sending more information with your FRS to share with you very soon. Save your LES and SF 50s!

Medical Billing -- Current, Transferred, Retired and Other Former Employees- Last year some of our members received medical billings for services that the hospitals had not sent to their insurance companies in a timely manner. Thanks to quick action by Michael Bauernfeind, Pacific Uniserv/Counsel, FRSes, and Pacific District Presidents, most of these issues had been resolved. If you receive such bills or learn of such a case, please advise the educator to contact Mr. Bauernfeind,

Important Documents and Papers -- This is a friendly reminder to check the dates on your documents and papers such as passports, driver's license, ration cards, base passes, etc.

Private Email Address - FEA has asked your school FRS to collect members' private email addresses. Why? There are many reasons, but providing your private email address allows the FRS to keep you informed over the summer and will help your FEA leaders insure that there is an avenue for contacting you in case Outlook is down or not available. In addition, in order to keep you informed of issues that cannot be addressed via a government computer, a private email address will allow FEA to keep you up-to-date.

Pacific's Legal Eagle Corner

Check your summer LQA payments: It appears that DFAS may have deducted TSP contributions from summer LQA payments for those members who have selected to receive salary over 21 pay periods, i.e. 9 month pay. Check your LES from the summer. You should have received unreduced LQA. If your net pay is not the same as Nontaxable Wages on your LES then you should probably file a pay inquiry with your appropriate Customer Service Representative.

Other Tidbits

The following news is from the Thrift Savings Plan Web site
No more waiting period for agency contributions -- All FERS employees are now eligible to receive agency contributions. There is no longer a waiting period for receiving Agency Automatic (1%) Contributions or Matching Contributions.
No required minimum distributions for 2009 -- For 2009 only, tax law suspends required minimum distributions for separated participants age 70 or older. If this affects you, you should have received an explanatory letter from the TSP.

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

Debra S. Degalis
FEA Pacific Area Director
DSN 315-267-6159