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January 15 2009 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: January 15, 2009


TRANSFER PROGRAM -- FEA met with management last week to begin the process of bargaining this year's DoDDS Transfer Program. As is customary, we will wait until the Transfer Agreement is signed and released before discussing any potential details of the program. I am optimistic that we will have the agreement finalized before my next update on February 1. As soon as the agreement is finalized, FEA will inform its members. We also will post the Tips for Transfers from Connie Shanaghan, FEA's Transfer Guru, as soon as details of the Transfer Agreement are finalized and Connie can put those tips together.

BAGGAGE FEES -- More and more airlines are beginning to charge customers, including government workers, a charge for even the first piece of luggage they check. FEA has been in contact with DoDEA about this situation and we have been assured that DoDDS employees traveling on RAT will be reimbursed the cost of mailing and/or checking up to 100 pounds of luggage or other personal possessions.

GOOD NEWS FOR PACIFIC -- Post allowance rates in many area of the Pacific have been on the rise, thanks to a stronger performance by the dollar. The increases will show up in January 28 paychecks. To view allowance tables, visit the State Department site at http://aoprals.state.gov

MILITARY CHIEF WANTS MORE SCHOOL FUNDING -- The head of the U.S. European Command, Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, last week told reporters he would like to see hundreds of millions of dollars invested in DoDDS schools on the continent in the coming years. He cited the old age and poor condition of many DoDDS schools as a "readiness problem" because they could discourage families from accompanying service members overseas, and that would lead to morale and retention problems. Gen. Craddock also said he would like to see four Army brigades remain in Europe, instead of the two presently called for. Such decisions, of course, would ultimately rest with Congress and the White House, but it's great to know Gen. Craddock places such importance on our schools as a part of military quality of life.

MILEAGE RATE CONFUSION -- You may have heard that recently the IRS reduced its standard mileage rate from 58.5 cents per mile to 55 cents per mile. Please keep in mind that this rate would only apply for mileage you are trying to claim on your taxes. Mileage for which you are seeking reimbursement from DoDEA is always paid at the GSA rate. That GSA rate remains at 58.5 cents per mile, for the moment. The GSA will usually follow the IRS's lead, however, so be aware at the GSA rate is likely to drop very soon. You should always check the GSA web site at www.gsa.gov for the most current mileage reimbursement rate.

INAUGURATION -- At the request of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers worked together to create a series of instructional guides and activities to help teachers across the country bring the 56th Presidential Inauguration to life in their classrooms. The guides are now available at: www.nea.org/inaugurationlessons.html and www.pic2009.org/page/content/lessonplans.

GPO/WEP -- A bill to repeal Social Security Offsets has been reintroduced into Congress.
Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Buck McKeon (R-CA) have reintroduced the Social Security Fairness Act to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision. The new bill number is H.R. 235. The previous bill, which had over 300 cosponsors, expired at the end of the last Congress. When the new Congress convened last week, the sponsors immediately reintroduced the bill -- demonstrating their strong support for the issue and desire to send a message about its importance to their congressional colleagues. The bill was introduced with over 80 cosponsors. The Senate version is expected to be re-introduced shortly.

MID-ATLANTIC MEETING -- I will be joining a number of FEA members in attendance next week at the NEA Mid-Atlantic Leadership Conferences in Charlotte, NC. The annual meeting always offers a wealth of valuable information for attendees and is one of the best opportunities our members have each year to meet and interact with their counterparts from around the U.S. Thank you in advance to all of our members who are attending this year's meeting. I'm sure you will pick up lots of great tips you can share with your fellow members when you return to school.

AS LONG AS I'M IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD -- Following the Mid-Atlantic meeting, I'll be stopping to visit our members at Fort Jackson, near Columbia, SC, on Monday, and at Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, NC, Tuesday and Wednesday. I look forward to visiting with the membership at both of these locations.

NEW RULES FOR INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO U.S. -- As of January 12, international visitors to the U.S. from visa-waiver countries -- including foreign-national born dependents of U.S. soldiers and government workers -- will need to visit a Web site and secure advance approval before they can enter the U.S. The rule will cover citizens of countries such as the UK, Germany, Japan and South Korea, among over 30 others, and will include dependents flying on space-available military flights. Get more details by reading this article from Stars and Stripes.

EEO CONTACT LIST -- Members often have questions or wish to report Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) issues. To do so, please contact the appropriate person below:

Diversity Management Equal Opportunity (DMEO) Field Offices
DDESS
Albert Ware
DMEO Program Manager
700 Westpark Drive
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Phone #: (678)364-6655
Fax (678) 364-6626
E-mail: Albert.Ware@am.dodea.edu

Carolyn Richards
DMEO Counselor
700 Westpark Drive
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Phone #: (678) 364-8013
Fax (678) 364-6626
E-mail: Carolyn.Richards@am.dodea.edu

DoDDS-Pacific DMEO Office
Ferdinand Carlos
DMEO Site Manager
DoDDS Pacific/DDESS-Guam
Unit 35007
APO AP 96376
Phone #: (011) 81-611-744-5661
Fax: 011-81-989-57-4510
E-mail: Ferdinand.Carlos@pac.dodea.edu

DoDDS-Europe DMEO Office
William Suddeth
DMEO Program Manager
DoDDS-Europe DMEO
Unit 29649 Box 7600
APO AE 09096
DSN 314-334-2490
Civilian: 06134-604-490
Civilian (Outside Germany) 011-49-6134-604-490
Fax DSN: 314-334-2959
Civilian Fax: 06134-604-959
Civilian Fax (Outside Germany): 011-49-6134-604-959
E-mail: William.Suddeth@eu.dodea.edu

Luis Agosto
DMEO Counselor
DoDDS-Europe DMEO
Unit 29649 Box 7600
APO AE 09096
DSN 314-334-2490
Civilian: 06134-604-490
Civilian (Outside Germany) 011-49-6134-604-490
Fax DSN: 314-334-2959
Civilian Fax: 06134-604-959
Civilian Fax (Outside Germany): 011-49-6134-604-959
E-mail: Luis.Agosto@eu.dodea.edu

NEXT WEEK -- In addition to MLK Day on Monday, the FEA Washington office will also be closed on Tuesday due to the inauguration of Barack Obama taking place here in DC.

Have a great weekend!