April 2 2019 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: April 2, 2019


With just a few remaining overseas excessed educators to place, VERA/VSIP offers to our overseas teachers are still possible but growing more and more unlikely. When DoDEA officially closes the VERA/VSIP program, we will let you know.


I want to add my congratulations to the new At-Large Officers who have been elected to the FEA Board of Directors. I hope that every FEA member will offer our new Board of Directors their full and enthusiastic support. At a time when DoDEA is so clearly off course, it is more important now than ever that FEA members continue to stand up together for our colleagues and our students.


The negotiation of a new contract for overseas employees is proceeding in accordance with the ground rules imposed recently by the Federal Service Impasses Panel. FEA and DoDEA will, in due course, present to each other their respective bargaining proposals. The two sides will then have a period of time to review each other's proposals before formal bargaining will get underway. We are grateful to the many overseas members who made suggestions for bargaining proposals and also to those who have volunteered to be a part of FEA's bargaining team for the overseas contract. The FEA Board will name the bargaining team members later this year as we approach the opening of formal bargaining on the submitted proposals. As per the FSIP-imposed ground rules, FEA overseas members will be able to vote on the contract that emerges from the bargaining sessions. FEA will continue to update our members on the contract negotiations throughout the entire process.


I recently spent 10 days in Europe, visiting 11 schools and attending local meetings in Kaiserslautern, AFNORTH, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden. Many thanks to all who helped arrange these visits and meetings, and especially to those who turned out to speak with me and to share your thoughts and concerns. One of the highlights of the trip was the FEA Europe Leadership and Conflict Resolution Training held in Garmisch. This was an excellent example of high quality professional development offered by FEA's own members. The feedback from those who attended was overwhelmingly positive. Congratulations and "well done!" to those who organized the training and to all who attended.


FEA will meet next week with representatives of DoDEA and the Pentagon's Wage Setting Authority to go over the data and finalize the School Year 2018-2019 pay schedules for overseas bargaining unit members. We will post the schedules to the FEA Web site as soon as they are finalized.

As has been the case since successful litigation by the Association in the 1970s, overseas employees can look forward to receiving an retroactive pay adjustment sometime this spring to provide you with the full amount of pay you are due under the SY 18-19 schedules.

There is always a delay in finalizing and implementing the current school year's overseas salary schedules because it takes a lot of time for the DOD Wage Setting Authority to gather data from the hundreds of U.S. school districts that make up our survey universe. Additionally, FEA spends several weeks examining the data collected by DOD and seeking to correct or resolve any discrepancies we find.

The Retro Pay adjustment is a result of continuing work on the part of the Association to ensure that overseas educators are paid in accordance with the statute governing our salaries and that our bargaining unit members receive the full and proper amount owed to them under the law. Additionally this year, we are making sure DoDEA employees' salaries are not frozen. An Executive Order issued by the President had threatened to freeze all federal salaries but that threat was eliminated by language FEA and NEA helped to ensure was included in legislation that ended the government shutdown earlier this year.


If you are planning to leave the FEA (Overseas) Bargaining Unit at the end of this year, either by retiring or resigning or because you are moving to DDESS or you have been transferred to the Med District, be sure to file a "Goodbye Grievance" early enough so that you will have 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 overseas bargaining unit members after they retire or resign and to ensure their rights under the Debt Collection Act and the overseas 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.


DoDEA schools have a record any system would be proud of, and that is largely because of the people who work directly with students every day. Plan now to celebrate the great work you and your colleagues do in our schools during Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-10. Tuesday, May 7, has been designated National Teacher Day.


Another huge reason for the success of DoDEA -- and, of course, the ENTIRE reason for the existence of DoDEA -- are the amazing young people we have the honor of working with everyday. Each April is designated the Month of the Military Child, but DoDEA employees need no reminders of how incredible these young people are, nor do we need to be reminded of their tremendous resilience and courage in the face of stresses and situations that would wither most people. We gladly celebrate the military children in DoDEA and anywhere else they may be located. You inspire us by your example every day!


According to the most recent membership report from NEA, FEA's overall membership has increased by nearly 2 percent over the past year. Increases have come in all major categories of membership for FEA: Active Professionals (teachers, counselors, psychs, SLPs, etc.), Education Support Professionals (aides, custodians, clerical, bus drivers, etc.) and Retired members (including currently Active members who have pre-paid their Retired dues). Such growth shows that DoDEA employees know the importance of solidarity -- now more than ever! -- and reinforces the resolve of FEA to continue fighting everyday for better working and learning conditions in our schools. Thank you to ALL FEA members for the trust and support you continue to show towards your professional association! We are honored to represent you and to help you succeed in the incredibly important work that you do.