February 26, 2016 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: February 26, 2016
Efforts to find positions for unplaced excessed educators are ongoing and FEA will continue to work on this with DoDEA until all such excessed educators are placed.
As is understandable, we have received a number of questions/comments from members who want to know if backfill categories were used during the transfer round.
Please be assured that each time a new backfill vacancy was created due to movement of an employee, the transfer committee would immediately review the list of transfer applicants, starting with the most senior A+ applicant as ranked by SCD, to find out whether that newly created backfill would create a match for an applicant who had not been placed already or was a higher location match for someone who had already been placed. It is important to note that the teaching categories of a backfill vacancy were not necessarily the current teaching categories of the applicant that created the backfill vacancy.
The point is, Connie and those she worked with from DoDEA spent weeks on the transfer placements precisely because they wanted to make sure that, though the number of transfers made were limited by management's short-sighted budget cuts, those transfer placements that were made were done fairly and accurately.
I realize that we will never had a transfer round that satisfies everyone, but FEA works very hard to ensure that the rules of the transfer agreement are abided by and all employees are treated equitably.
I again urge all members who are upset about the lack of transfer opportunities to share their feelings (courteously and professionally) with DoDEA Director Tom Brady. He can be reached via Outlook mail. Please copy FEA (a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com) on your message, since your comments help us greatly in pressing the case for an improved transfer program.
PRIOR WRITTEN NOTICE
We have heard a number of issues and concerns from educators in the field on management's trainings on its planned implementation of new Prior Written Notice (PWN) forms and procedures. The Association has sent bargaining proposals concerning the PWN implementation with management, to try and reduce the impact on educators. We will keep members informed of management's response and any action on this front.
VSIP/VERA DEADLINE FOR DDESS
In an effort to lessen the impact of a planned Reduction in Force for some DDESS locations, DDESS sent out a notice February 19 announcing that VERA/VSIP would be made available to some employees. The deadline for DDESS employees to apply for VERA/VSIP is March 3. Please contact your building principal if you need more information about this opportunity.
If you are planning to leave the FEA DODDS Bargaining Unit at the end of this year, either by retiring or resigning from DODDS (including VSIP and VERA) or because you have been transferred to the Med District, or you are moving to DDESS, be sure to file a "Goodbye Grievance" early enough so that you will have enough time to elevate it before your last day of duty. This grievance was developed by FEA UniServ Bill Freeman in order to allow FEA to represent our members after they retire or resign and to protect their rights under the Debt Collection Act and the Negotiated Agreement. We have heard far too many stories of retirees receiving erroneous debt letters. Ask your FRS for a copy of the forms for the Goodbye Grievance as well as the Request to Elevate.
READ ACROSS AMERICA
It's never too late to visit NEA's Read Across America site to get some last minute ideas for your reading events or some materials to help you promote it. Be sure also to visit FEA's home page at www.feaonline.org to see the Read Across America PSA we helped to coordinate, featuring NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and DoDEA Director Tom Brady. The PSA is also airing this week on Armed Forces Network. While I'm at it, let me express my personal thanks to President Eskelsen Garcia and Director Brady and to the communications/video production teams at NEA and DoDEA for their work in making this happen.
Although the rollout of CCR Math has been a high priority for DoDEA, neither the trainings nor the materials have been adequate. FEA continues to forward feedback from our members to DoDEA in order to improve this implementation. The Association understands that the educators in the classrooms know what they need to help their students learn. Will DoDEA finally listen?
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
March is designated as Women's History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Visit NEA's Women's History Month page for resources you can use in the classroom.
NEA FOUNDATION GALA
Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the NEA Foundation's Salute to Excellence in Education Gala here in Washington DC. Known as the Academy Awards of public education, this is an annual celebration of the men and women who work in America's public schools. This year, FEA's John Crowe, Feltwell ES, was honored along with the other state nominees. We are currently accepting applications for next year's nominee. Contact your Area Director for more information immediately if you want to make a nomination. We have so many great educators in our schools; let's not miss the chance to honor one of our own!
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
As part of FEA's celebration of its 60th anniversary in 2016, we are periodically revisiting some stories and issues from our past.
The October 5, 1966 OEA Journal (we were the Overseas Education Association, or OEA, back then), featured a story about the ongoing fight the Association was waging to see that its overseas members we paid according to the law passed by Congress. This fight, which took most of the Association's first two decades of existence to resolve, was eventually won when the Association prevailed in a lawsuit against the federal government. In October 1966, however, the federal government was continuing to ignore its legal obligation to pay employees all that was owed to them under the law, citing congressional budget cuts as an excuse for not paying the full amount due.
The OEA Journal story reported that, at a general meeting of Association members held in Frankfurt, Germany, the previous month, attendees were addressed by Dr. Lynn Bartlett, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Education), who reiterated the excuses used by the government for not paying educators correctly. Furthermore, in response to complaints from Association members about the situation, Dr. Bartlett said anyone not satisfied with the way they were being paid would have "the option of returning to the States at government expense."
In other words: if they didn't like it, they could quit.
Fortunately, as mentioned above, the Association eventually did prevail (though it would take another 8 years of lobbying and legal action). Unfortunately, the efforts of the government to avoid paying its employees correctly have been mirrored recently in the illegal extension of the DODDS salary freeze (which the Association also successfully fought) and in ongoing statements from DoDEA administrators that employees not happy with transfer opportunities and other working conditions can "make an adult decision" and quit DoDEA schools.
Sadly, it sometimes seems as if we just have to keep fighting the same battles over and over again. But our history teaches us that, by working collectively as an Association and sticking to the fight, no matter how long it takes, improvements CAN and WILL be won!