January 15, 2013, FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Michael Priser, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: January 15, 2013
NO TRANSFER PROGRAM -- DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald has announced that, due to Pentagon-ordered budget cuts and ongoing budget uncertainties, the DoDDS Transfer Program that would normally take place this spring has been suspended. This is, of course, a great disappointment to FEA members, particularly those in hardship areas. As Ms. Fitzgerald noted in her memo to DoDEA Area Directors, every effort will be made to place all excess educators this school year, which is particularly important given the larger-than-usual number of excess that will be created when several schools close at the end of the current school year. Also, as requested by FEA, applications for all categories of a transfer program this year will still be accepted and plans will be put in place for the possibility -- however remote -- that the fiscal situation changes and sufficient time and resources for a transfer program do become available later this year.
VERA/VSIP -- There is still no answer on the possibility of VERA/VSIP (Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment) for DoDEA employees this year. It is FEA's understanding that DoDEA has asked the Pentagon for permission to offer VERA/VSIP but that request has yet to be acted upon as of this writing. The high number of excess employees expected after this school year, due mostly to the closing of several schools in Europe, makes offering VERA/VSIP a smart -- and some would say, necessary -- proposition. We will keep our members informed of any developments on this topic.
YOUR PAY -- Keep in mind, the reduction in payroll taxes that had been in effect the past two years expired as of January 1. So, if you notice that your take-home pay is a bit smaller since the first of the year, this is probably the reason why. As always, however, we advise our members to check their LESs carefully to be sure that their overall pay (salary amount, pay lane, etc.) is correct, as are any housing allowances or COLAs you receive. Be sure to immediately inform your principal in writing of any problems you do have with your pay or benefits and copy your FRS.
JUSTICE -- FEA is always prepared to go the extra mile to protect our members' rights and see that justice is done. This was evidenced recently by our successful appeal of a case involving a veteran teacher who was dismissed over false allegations of improperly disciplining several students. FEA bought the case to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals, who agreed that the dismissal was improper and ordered the teacher to be reinstated immediately.
CANDIDATES -- Congratulations to all the FEA Active members who have been nominated for at-large seats on the FEA Board of Directors. You can see the list of nominees here. Information on the candidates will be sent to members in the February FEA Journal and sent to FRSs/building representatives via mail. Ballots will be sent directly to all FEA Active Members in March and votes will be counted April 23 and 24.
ID CARDS FOR DOMESTIC PARTNERS AND DEPENDENTS -- FEA has once again contacted DoD concerning our standing request to provide specific guidance to allow the issuance of Identification (ID) cards to domestic partners of DoD civilian employees and their dependents. FEA understands that this is a critical quality of life issue and is making every effort to convince DoD and DoDEA to provide ID cards to the domestic partners and dependents of DoDEA educators. However, the latest information provided by DoD officials is that there are a number of steps that must be taken and that they cannot put a timeline on the process.
OTHER MATTERS -- The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in the case Windsor v. United States during the spring term of the Court. The Windsor case challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), alleging it is unconstitutional. The decision by the Supreme Court in this case will have a significant impact on FEA bargaining unit members. The NEA General Counsel's office has stated that it will jointly file an amicus ("friend of the court") brief with other unions in the Windsor case. NEA, following a request from FEA, will specifically address how DOMA impacts individuals as federal employees in the amicus brief. FEA will continue to monitor developments in this case.
MILEAGE RATE -- The General Services Administration (GSA) has raised the mileage reimbursement rate for cars to 56.5 cents per mile, up from 55.5 cents. This rate now matches the IRS rate for private sector workers set last year.
IN OUR THOUGHTS -- The holiday season was darkened by the horrible events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month. The Connecticut Education Association has established a "Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund", to be used for a scholarship fund at the University of Connecticut for families of loved ones killed in the shooting and to create a bronze sculpture memorializing the heroism, sacrifice and innocent lives lost in the tragedy. Donations can be made at www.cea.org or by sending a check to:
CT Education Foundation
Sandy Hook Memorial & Scholarship Fund
Capitol Place, Suite 500
21 Oak Street
Hartford, CT 06106
MLK DAY -- This Monday, January 21, is Martin Luther King, Jr., day. You can find great resources for teaching students about Dr. King and his importance by going to NEA's MLK Day page.
SCHOOL VISITS -- I'm on my way to Europe for several weeks of school visits and meetings with our members. My schedule for the rest of January is as follows:
January 22- Croughton
January 23 -- Alconbury
January 24 -- Lakenheath
January 28 -- Brussels
January 29 -- SHAPE
January 30 -- AFNorth
January 31 -- Bitburg/Spangdahlem
I'll make visits the first week of February to Heidelberg, Schweinfurt, Bamberg, Vilseck, Netzaburg and Grafenwoehr. More on those visits in my next update.
I hope you have a great week!