Content

April 20 2021 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: April 20, 2021

OVERSEAS SALARIES

The review of data for SY 20-21 salaries in FEA's Overseas bargaining unit has been completed. The full salary schedules can be viewed at this page.

Here is the AVERAGE rate of increase (across all steps and pay lanes) for FEA members in the Overseas unit.

Classroom Teachers -- 1.64%
Guidance Counselors -- 1.47%
School Psychologists -- 1.52%
Speech Pathologists -- 1.70%

The rates of increase are lower than they have been the past few years. This is due to the economic impact of COVID-19 on state and local tax income the past year and the resulting tightening of funding for public schools in many parts of America. This negative impact may be felt for several years.

Overseas salaries are set by law at a rate equal to the pay for similar positions in U.S. urban school districts with a population of 100,00 or higher. The Wage and Salary Division of DOD's Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service collects salary data each year from the 267 school districts that currently meet that definition. FEA then reviews the data presented by the Wage and Salary Division, proposing changes and corrections as needed until the data is agreed on by the Association and DoDEA management.

Our thanks to everyone at Wage and Salary for their many hours spent on this project.

Overseas employees will receive a retroactive salary adjustment later this spring to make up for the difference in the amount they've been paid so far this year, versus their actual salary figure for SY 20-21, as set by the salary survey. Because it takes most of a given school year to collect, analyze and finalize the data from all 267 districts, the "real" salary amounts for the Overseas unit in a given school year are usually not finalized until this time of year.

Successful legal action by FEA in the past ensures that Overseas employees receive the retro pay adjustment to bring their pay up to date for the current school year, rather than waiting until next fall to begin paying employees on the newly determined salary amount, as was done in the past.

Overseas employees should look for that pay adjustment added to their pay checks within roughly the next month.


FECA

Members who have been working on-site and have contracted COVID-19 since January 27, 2020, are reminded that the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act passed earlier this year makes it much more likely you would qualify for Workers Compensation benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). The ARP basically formalized a policy the Labor Department had been unofficially following that presumed non-teleworking employees in many public-facing positions who contracted COVID-19 had caught it because of work-related exposure, and thus those employees were eligible for Workers Comp benefits. As a result of the new law, many COVID-19 claims that were filed under FECA but were denied or withdrawn prior to March 12, 2021, will also be eligible for review under the eligibility requirements included in the ARP. DoDEA has instructed employees who believe they may be eligible for Workers Comp benefits as a result of contracting COVID-19 to contact an Injury Compensation Specialist at CHRA. The office hours for those specialists are limited to 7am to 5pm Central Time Monday through Thursdays. They can be reached using the following information:
Via telephone, toll-free at 866 792-7620, Option 3 or standard rates at 785 239 9863, Option 3.
Via E-mail at this e-mail address


HEATING OIL ISSUE

The Association has filed a grievance over management's sudden and unreasonable change to the process for obtaining LQA reimbursement for heating oil expenses. Employees are being told they must document heating oil expenses going back as far as 20 years in some cases and are being threatened with dubious debt collection notices. Additional information on this issue will be forthcoming.


RETIREMENT

From our FEA Retired Representatives: If you are considering retirement soon, be sure to check with your building representative on the FEA Tips for Retirement. We can also forward you a packet by contacting FEA Retired.


RETIRED MEMBERS

A reminder to members who are retiring or have retired: If you paid for an FEA/NEA Pre-Retired membership, you must notify FEA's Washington DC office when you actually retire so that we can activate your Retired membership. Do not assume we have learned of your retirement from your FRS or DoDEA: we must hear from you directly. If you paid for a Pre-Retired membership and are not certain that membership has been activated, please send a message to Nereyda Jones-Luciano at this e-mail address to inform her of your retirement and confirm your status. If you will be retiring at the end of this school year and have paid for a Pre-Retired membership, please send Nereyda a message at the time of your retirement (not before) to notify her that your Retired membership should be activated. Also, if you know any members who retired in recent years, please pass this information on to them and urge them to contact Nereyda if they had paid for Pre-Retired membership but never contacted FEA about their retirement. Thank you!


FEA ANNUAL MEETING

The FEA Annual Membership Meeting will take place June 28 and 29, 2021. As it was last year, this summer's meeting will be held virtually using Microsoft Teams. Because of capacity limits on Teams, pre-registration for the meeting will be required. We will be publishing information on how to sign up to attend the online meeting in the weeks ahead.


PURPLE STAR AWARD

Congratulations to our members at Camp Lejeune, whose schools were recently recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as Purple Star Schools. The Purple Star program was begun in North Carolina a few years ago and is awarded to schools that demonstrate military-friendly practices and a commitment to military students and families. This was the first year the awards were opened up to on-base schools, prompting school officials at Lejeune to apply.


FREE HELP NAVIGATING STUDENT DEBT FORGIVENESS

Did you know that your Association membership gives you access to a one full year of free premium access to NEA's Student Debt Navigator? The Navigator helps student loan borrowers sort through the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs. The premium service provides technical support from student loan experts at Savi, a social impact technology company working to solve the student loan debt crisis, who partnered with NEA Member Benefits to create the NEA Student Debt Navigator tool. Those experts can answer questions and help Association members file loan forgiveness applications. Learn more and sign up for your one year of free access by going to NEA's Student Debt Navigator site

In addition, NEA provides other resources about student loan repayment for educators, especially through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, at NEA's Student Debt Support page. We know of at least one FEA member who has already utilized NEA's assistance with efforts to get student loan debt forgiven.