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FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: February 15, 2019


STATESIDE CONTRACT THREAT

DoDEA is threatening an illegal implementation of the successor contract for Stateside schools. While FEA's Stateside Region has begrudgingly accepted the Federal Service Impasses Panel's December 2018 ruling on contract issues that were considered to be at impasse, FEA-SR has challenged one section of the new contract that should not have been ruled on by the FSIP. That section would allow DoDEA to mandate non-paid make up days for school days closed due to inclement weather or other emergencies. FEA-SR and DoDEA had previously signed an agreement on this issue, so it should not have been a part of the contract negotiations and, therefore, could not have been at impasse. Since the FSIP may only rule on impasse issues, it had no jurisdiction over this part of the contract and FEA-SR has asked DoDEA to remove the make up day article so the remainder of the successor MLA could be signed and implemented. DoDEA has not responded to that request but did inform FEA-SR it considers the successor contract, including the language on non-paid make up days, to be in effect -- despite the fact the contract has not been signed by the two parties. If DoDEA actually does try to unilaterally implement this disputed contract it would be following the example of Betsy DeVos, who did the same to her employees at the Department of Education last year. That DOE contract is currently facing litigation. FEA-SR is considering all options, including litigation, should DoDEA go through with its threat. You can read the full update on this issue here.


THREAT TO MEMBERS EVERYWHERE

As recently reported to members, DoDEA is again seeking sole authority to set pay and benefits and to strip employees of their most basic rights and civil service protections via legislation it is asking Congress to pass. It is the exact same bill DoDEA sought last year and which FEA members, with A LOT of help from thousands of our NEA sisters and brothers, were able to stop. FEA has repeatedly offered to work with DoDEA to enact the few positive changes they are seeking that could be of benefit to students, but only if DoDEA removes its attacks on workers rights. Management has refused to cooperate on such an effort, making clear what their real priorities are. FEA and NEA have once again been educating decision makers in Congress and the Pentagon about DoDEA's true intentions. It is not yet clear whether a letter-writing effort similar to the one undertaken last year will again be necessary to stop this new attack by management. FEA will continue to update members and will not fail to alert you should direct action become necessary in the fight. Learn more about this issue at Learn more here.


OVERSEAS EXCESS PLACEMENTS

DoDEA has told us its online database for Overseas excessed placement applications will be up and running on Tuesday, February 19. This is where those Overseas employees being excessed this year (who did not apply for and accept VERA/VSIP) will go to apply for placement, fill out their location/category preferences, etc.

DoDEA has yet to release to us the URL for its Overseas placement database. Whenever we get that URL or learn anything new about the database we will inform members. Meanwhile, we encourage our Overseas members to read through Connie Shanaghan's Tips for Excess Placements for Overseas Educators.


STATESIDE EXCESS PLACEMENTS

Stateside employees being excessed are to be placed according to the procedures outlined in the MLA between FEA-SR and DODEA, though management is trying to skirt that procedure.


FOIA REQUESTS

While DoDEA is cutting direct services to students by raising the PTR in our secondary schools, they continue to spend freely on outside consultants and studies that they often ignore. FEA has submitted official Freedom of Information Act requests on a number of these contracts, including the recent Transfer Study. This "study," which included a survey so flawed that FEA recommended our members not complete it, cost DoDEA almost $88,000! Unfortunately, regardless of that study or the cost, DoDEA chose to cancel the Transfer Program. Clearly, DoDEA's lowest priority is the morale and welfare of its employees.

Instead of outside contractors and consultants, DoDEA should start listening the real experts in our system...the people who work with students every day!


SURVEY

FEA is surveying members about the support they receive from ISSs and administrators. A survey link has been sent to members via their personal (non DoDEA) email addresses. Please check your Inbox or Spam folder and send a message if you did not receive that message about the survey so we can send you the link.


MOVING EXPENSES

The lack of information coming from the Agency about the impact of the new tax laws on employees has been another example of the Agency's disregard for employees. FEA continues to press DoDEA to provide more information concerning the changes in the tax laws that are impacting our members who move. We finally received confirmation that the information at these links is correct and applicable to DoDEA employees:

This DFAS website has been updated recently to include further guidance regarding taxable entitlements after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

This website includes Frequently Asked Questions.


MA+ CASE PAYMENTS

Slowly, ever so slowly, DoDEA is paying people who are owed money in the MA+ Case won by FEA for our overseas educators. Currently, over 300 have been paid so far, with over $12,000,000 in total already paid plus TSP lost earnings, higher current salary and retirement pay. Just this month we had 5 grievants receive a total of $331,000! Unfortunately, DoDEA seems to be in no hurry to pay people correctly, so some 50 remain to be paid. However, we WILL prevail in the end and all grievants will continue to earn interest until they are paid in full.


ELECTION

Ballots for the election of four at-large officers to seats on the FEA Board of Directors were mailed to all Active Members of the Association on January 17. We encourage all members to make their voices heard in the selection of their Association leadership by completing and returning your ballot in time for the March 26 deadline for receipt. Any member who does not receive their ballot directly in the mail by February 15 may request a copy of the ballot from their FRS or Local President and then mail their completed ballot to FEA in time to reach our DC office by the March 26 deadline for receipt. Please note that this election for at-large officers to the FEA Board is separate from other elections that may be taking place in your local or within your country/Area for other positions, such as RA delegates or other officers.


COMPLIMENTARY LIFE INSURANCE

Sadly, I recently heard about members who have passed away. Please remember that a benefit of your membership is a complimentary life insurance policy available through NEA Member Benefits. To register or change your beneficiary go to the NEA Member Benefits site. Members are required to create an account and password. Please be sure to use a personal (non DoDEA) email when creating your account.