January 15 2011 FEA President's Report

To: FEA Members and Local Leaders Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: January 15, 2011

PAY FREEZE -- As you recall, late last year President Obama proposed to Congress a freeze on the salaries of federal workers for two years as part of budget-cutting measures. FEA has reviewed the salary freeze language in the newly enacted statute, the presidential memorandum, and the guidance from the Office of Personnel Management. In DDESS, where pay can be bargained, the existing contract language regarding pay contained in the Classified and Certified Master Labor Agreements will remain in effect. For DoDDS, employees this spring will get the retroactive pay increase they normally receive, based upon the annual survey of U.S. urban school districts. FEA will be working with our coalition partners from other federal unions to mitigate the effects of this freeze on our members in future years.

VERA -- DoDEA has been authorized to offer Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) for up to 200 positions for school-level professionals throughout DoDEA. The deadline to apply is January 25, 2011. Please see your building principals for information on how to apply for VERA. VSIP (Voluntary Incentive Separation Pay) will not be offered this year.

EARLY RETIREMENT NOTICE AWARD -- At FEA's request, DoDEA has agreed to extend the award deadline for school-level professionals to submit notice of their intention to retire or otherwise leave DoDEA at the end of this school year. The new deadline is January 25, 2011. Those who submit such notices by that deadline will receive a $1,000 award, along with an inscribed paperweight and certificate from DoDEA. Information about this incentive program has been sent to your building principals. We urge anyone planning to leave DoDEA after this year to take advantage of this incentive and turn in your notice prior to the January 25 deadline. Doing so will create more openings to help your fellow educators in the upcoming DoDDS Transfer Program.

TRANSFER PROGRAM -- FEA and DoDEA Headquarters continue to work on an agreement for this spring's DoDDS Transfer Program. We believe we are very close to finalizing the details of this year's program and we will notify our members as soon as we have done so. We know this program always generates much excitement and interest among our members and we thank you for your continued patience as we work out the final details.

ADVANCED ED -- FEA and DoDEA recently signed an MOU covering the AdvancED Accreditation Process. In it, both sides emphasize their desire to streamline the process for AdvancED by identifying ways to reduce or eliminate duplication of effort and unnecessary work. Furthermore, management and FEA agree to work on a survey to educators, asking them for input on what needs to be done in order to streamline the AdvancED process. You can find that MOU at (member login required)

PAYROLL TAX REDUCTION -- FEA members are urged to track their pay carefully throughout the year and to use the pay organizer in your FEA pocket calendar. In addition to being on the lookout for improper deductions and other pay problems, you are urged to check your January 7, 2011, LES to be sure you received the reduction in payroll taxes enacted by President Obama and the outgoing Congress last year. Throughout calendar year 2011, employees who pay into Social Security will see their payroll taxes decline by 2 percent. Because they do not pay into Social Security, this change will not affect CSRS employees -- only FERS employees will be impacted. To make sure you are receiving the rate reduction, FERS employees should check the "OASDI" item under "Deductions" on their LES throughout 2011 to be sure they are being taxed at the reduced amount.

MILEAGE RATE -- The General Services Administration has increased the mileage reimbursement rate for federal employees using their own cars for official business to 51 cents per mile, up from 50 cents per mile in 2010. This change took effect January 1, 2011.

THANK YOU -- I want to thank the members and leaders at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell for their hospitality during my recent visits. Thanks also to everyone I visited with just before the holiday break at Shape Elementary and Shape Middle/High school, Aukamm Elementary, Brussels American School and Kleine Brogel Elementary. I always learn so much visiting with our members and greatly appreciate the excellent work you all are doing everyday to educate DoDEA students.

I hope you all enjoy your long weekend and take some time to reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the wake of recent events, his message of non-violence and love, even for those with whom you may strongly disagree, is as resonant today as ever.