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October 15 2009 FEA President's Report

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


NSPS -- As we informed you last week, the National Security Personnel System (NSPS), one of the most harmful attacks on workers' rights and protections ever imposed on the federal workforce, will soon be history. For the past six years, FEA has been successful in keeping our members from coming under NSPS, but the fact that the system remained in place meant that there was always a threat our members would eventually be subject to it. Thanks to the work of FEA and the many associations in the United DoD Workers Coalition, the scale and scope of NSPS had been narrowed significantly in the past few years, but the system would not go completely away. Now, with the signing of the 2010 Department of Defense Authorization Act, NSPS will finally be completely scrapped altogether.
This is a huge accomplishment and FEA is very grateful to our fellow members in the United DoD Workers Coalition for their hard work on this issue since the time NSPS was first introduced in 2003. This has truly been an example of what employees can accomplish when they unite their efforts toward a common cause. We are also grateful to our many members who called or wrote to Congress over the years in opposition to NSPS. You can be sure your efforts did have an effect in this outcome.

FERS RETIREMENT -- The DoD Authorization Act includes two other provisions of special interest to FEA members. The first provision would allow FERS employees to credit their unused sick leave toward their retirement. While sick leave cannot be used to make you eligible for federal retirement, it can be used once you have reached eligibility to increase your eventual federal retirement pension. The Office of Personnel Management will be issuing implementing regulations on this change in the future, which will provide more details. FEA will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

LOCALITY PAY -- The other provision of note in the DoD Authorization Act would introduce Locality Pay for federal employees receiving COLA's in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories, such as Guam. The switch to Locality Pay in lieu of COLAs will be phased in over a three-year period once the Office of Personnel Management has issued implementing regulations. Many employees prefer Locality Pay to COLAs because COLAs do not count toward salary when retirement is computed. For those who prefer to remain on COLA, however, there will be a one-time option to opt out of Locality Pay in favor of keeping your COLA. All new employees in those locations will automatically be put on Locality Pay.

ACCOUNTABLE? -- As of October 15, FEA is awaiting a response to our letter to the DoD Inspector General's office, requesting a full and thorough investigation of allegations made by a former DoDEA employee against DoDEA Director Dr. Shirley Miles and members of her Senior Staff at DoDEA Headquarters. FEA urges its members, and all parties concerned about the conduct of DoDEA management, to visit www.feaonline.org/sos/investigation.htm to learn more, including what you can do to join the call for an investigation.

NEW BARGAINING UNIT -- FEA is proud to announce that it now represents a brand new bargaining unit, comprised of above-school-level educators in DODDS. Congratulations and welcome to these employees. The ballots they cast on the question of forming this bargaining unit were counted this week at the Federal Labor Relations Authority office in Chicago and the results were overwhelming: only one vote was cast in opposition to forming the bargaining unit! The new unit should be officially certified by the FLRA next week. FEA will then begin sending to the employees in this new bargaining unit membership forms and materials for joining our association. FEA is honored to be entrusted by these employees with the task of serving as their bargaining agent and we look forward to working with all of you to organize your new unit.

IS YOUR SCHOOL TRASHING USABLE COMPUTERS? When Dr. Miles was in Japan last month she told her staff that schools would not be losing computers. Now it appears that she has modified her statement. Mr. Charlie Toth, Deputy Director, has said that "none of the old computers were being removed before a new one was installed." He went on to add that only "computers that were inoperable or not being used" would be disposed of through DMRO. If your school is trashing working computers that could be utilized by students, please ask your principal to hold such a decision in abeyance and elevate the concern to FEA-Washington.

ULP FILED AGAINST PRINCIPAL AT OSAN AMERICAN MIDDLE SCHOOL. An Unfair Labor Practice pre-charge has been filed against Dr. Jennifer Smith, Principal at Osan American Middle School. At the beginning of the school year, Dr. Smith announced that she would take care of all bulletin boards in the school. She then proceeded to put up a bulletin board with the following message: "With You or Without You, We're Going to Do What's Best for our Students." After several requests to remove this offensive message, Dr. Smith refused. DoDEA HQ's was contacted, and the poster was removed. Immediately Dr. Smith engaged in a series of retaliatory acts against the union. She has ordered staff to do the bulletin boards monthly on pre-assigned themes. She has educators on the first floor doing boards on the second floor and vice versa. She prohibits student involvement! She mandates the work be done after school hours. Dr. Miles has been contacted several times, and Dr. Smith has even had to meet with her Superintendent on this matter. The result? Nothing has changed. Dr. Smith continued this week belittling the staff on "font size." While HQ's denies that retaliatory or vindictive behavior is condoned, they appear powerless in stopping these abuses at OSAMS. The ULP will proceed.

100 PERCENT -- Congratulations to the members and local leaders at CT Joy Elementary School for achieving 100 percent FEA membership in their building. FEA thanks you for your support and will always strive to honor the trust you have placed in us. Any other schools that have achieved 100 percent membership are asked to let us know by sending a message to fea@feaonline.org so we can recognize your achievement.

BOARD MEETING -- The FEA Board of Directors will meet here in Washington next week. As always we will be discussing the many issues affecting our members and working to respond according to the information and feedback your representatives on the Board have heard from you. Look for information from your Area Director on the business conducted at the meeting.

AMERICAN EDUCATION WEEK -- Start planning now to celebrate American Education Week, November 15-21, and Education Support Professionals Day on November 18. Get information and ideas for how to celebrate by visiting . NEA's American Education Week page

DoDEA EXCELLENCE -- FEA congratulates the 12 students recently named as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship and the National Achievement Scholarship. Both awards are highly competitive and consideration for either award requires students to demonstrate an outstanding academic record and meet other stringent criteria. These students are a credit to all of DoDEA and are representative of the outstanding scholars our schools produced every year. To learn more click here.

ABOVE AND BEYOND -- Here's another example of a DoDEA teacher going above and beyond to make sure our students receive the quality education they deserve. Please share your stories with FEA by sending them to fea@feaonline.org
"I returned to work on August 24 in an unpaid capacity. My intent was to relocate the materials that I had moved in June because I was told that I was changing positions and classrooms. At 1400 on Friday, June 12, 2009, I was told that I was not moving. This meant that I had to move many of the materials that I had moved back to my classroom as well as to pack things away so that I could turn my keys into the secretary by the time she left at 1600.

"When I returned on August 24, I found that my classroom had not been cleaned over the summer. The furniture in my office was moved into my classroom so that my office floor could be waxed, but that was the extent of the cleaning done. I got the vacuum from the cleaning closet and vacuumed my entire classroom, sucked down spider webs and dusted the tops of the furniture and the ledges in the classroom I did this alone. I moved every piece of furniture in the classroom and arranged as I cleaned each section. I do not know why the classrooms were not cleaned over the summer, or if my classroom was the exception. I only know that my room had not been touched except for the floor in my office. The two large rugs still need to be cleaned. Spots from SY 2008-2009 are still very visible. I did not have the time or the equipment to clean those spots. The prompt for this cleaning spree was my students. I wanted my classroom as clean as I could get it for them.

"I think this is just one more example of how teachers, with no prompting from above, go the extra mile for their students. DoDEA got two complete days of free labor from this teacher in the interest of students. So much for uncaring and complacent.

"Thanks. Have a happy day."

Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope you all have a very happy day and a great weekend!