March 15 2019 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: March 15, 2019
GUIDANCE ON RITA/WTA FOR PCS TAXES
DoDEA has (FINALLY!) issued guidance to Overseas employees regarding the availability of and procedure to follow in order to claim Relocation Income Tax Allowance (RITA) and/or Withholding Tax Allowance (WTA) for taxes on applicable civilian PCS moves. Anyone who PCSed in 2018 is advised to carefully read the guidance from DoDEA to make sure you take advantage of the resources available to you.
In short, RITA and WTA are available to employees who relocated to a new duty station in 2018 for the benefit of the federal government. These would include any DoDEA employees who were transferred or relocated due to being excessed in 2018. RITA and WTA are still not applicable for employees who retired/separated from federal service in 2018, nor are they available for new or other incoming federal civilian employees who are now being taxed on the moving services they received to help them reach their initial duty station.
FEA and NEA continue to seek a change to the tax law in order to provide relief from this tax for all civilian feds and especially to lift the tax or make available some sort of assistance for DoDEA employees who are retiring/separating from or entering/re-entering federal service. Unfortunately, such measures have not been able to advance in the present anti-worker atmosphere. Nevertheless, relief from this unfair tax burden remains one of the highest priorities for FEA/NEA and we will continue to work toward such relief until it is granted, no matter how long it takes!
OVERSEAS EXCESS PLACEMENTS
This week I spent time observing the Overseas Excess Placement Process. FEA's Connie Shanaghan has been involved in every step of the process. Connie is an amazing asset to our members, working diligently to create our FAQs and answer questions about the process, as well as working carefully with management on each placement to ensure educators receive the best placement possible. FEA European Area Director Terry McClain is also in attendance. I would also like to acknowledge Patti Ross of DoDEA HQ, who worked diligently to prepare for the process and worked throughout the week to double check vacancies, certifications, and all the other details. While FEA advocated for a much wider range of choices for excessed educators, all of us who attended can attest to the fact that the placements are being done in accordance with the excess placement procedures.
The offers of VERA/VSIP to all Overseas excessed employees who applied and were eligible (Phase 1) has been completed. If you are an excessed teacher who applied for VERA/VSIP and did not receive an offer, please contact Connie Shanaghan immediately
Per an agreement with Management, FEA cannot release any information on specific placements until the program has been completed and the reassignment letters have been sent out. We estimate this will take about two weeks.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING
Overseas educators should not worry about responding to any placement notices or VERA/VSIP offers that MAY be sent out during the upcoming spring break for Overseas schools (April 8-12). The days off during break do not count toward the number of days an educator has to respond.
I spent last Saturday in Nashville with our Stateside Leaders. It was a great chance to speak with local leaders about the problems and concerns our members around the world are facing. Many thanks to the Stateside Area Council for a great meeting.
This week I am headed to Denver, for the NEA Leadership Summit along with leaders from each of our three regions. (Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can all get there!) We are very fortunate to have access to excellent trainings like this provided by our NEA family.
From Denver, I will head to Germany for a brief trip to attend some local meetings as well as the FEA Leadership Academy in Garmisch. I am looking forward to speaking with our members and gathering input on the issues we are facing from the experts in our schools. While I am traveling, please excuse any delay in responding to your emails.
DoDEA DOUBLE SPEAK
While DoDEA's Blueprint says "Students are at the heart of all we do," DoDEA's continued actions show that not to be true. Whether it is the increase in PTR at our secondary schools, the elimination of such valuable classes as Chem Apps and Phys Apps, or the loss of the FLES program at our ES's, DoDEA continues to make decisions that are detrimental to the education of the students and families we serve.
It also amazes me that while DoDEA stresses the importance of "collaboration" in our schools, DoDEA HQ does not even seem to know the meaning of the word. The work on the placement of excess teachers is a rare exception. DoDEA has been increasingly unwilling to involve school level educators, or the Association that represents you, in decisions that directly impact students or educators. These decisions seem to be made in the bubble of the Mark Center by people who have not been in the classroom in years or by non-educators.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
While Overseas employees are already applying for RAT orders for the upcoming summer, some are still waiting to be reimbursed for their travel LAST summer. And this is a new and improved system?! FEA continues to prod DoDEA for fixes to last year's problems and is urging the Agency to take steps to avoid similar difficulties this year. If necessary, FEA will litigate to see that members receive all the reimbursements due to them.
Completed ballots for the election of four at-large officers (President, Vice President-Secretary/Treasurer, NEA Director for FEA, and Human & Civil Rights Coordinator) must be RECEIVED in Washington DC by the end of March 26, 2019, in order to be counted. If you have not yet mailed your ballot, this is your last chance. Members who did not receive a ballot directly from FEA can obtain a copy from their FRS/Local President. Ballots will be counted on March 27 and (if necessary) 28 and results will be posted on the FEA Web site within 24 hours of the tally being completed. Thank you to all who are running for office this year and to all members who took time to vote. Please remember, this election for at-large offices on the FEA Board is separate from other elections that may be taking place at your location, such as those for local or regional officers, delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly, etc.