May 1 2012 FEA President's ReportTo: FEA Members Worldwide
From: Michael Priser, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: May 1, 2012
SPRING ASSESSMENT FOR THE BAS FOR ALL K-3 TEACHERS -- DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald has just notified FEA that she intends to require a spring assessment of the BAS in DoDDS schools (FEA bargaining units in Europe/Pacific). FEA opposes this decision. We are issuing a special Update to explain why we believe her decision is not good for education or the DoDEA budget (you can view that update on FEA's Web site or those of you who subscribe to our listserv will receive it directly via e-mail). FEA suggested that only the "instructional level" be given this spring. This would give DoDEA Headquarters and CSI committees their data points, while reducing the loss of instructional time this late in the school year. The Director has rejected our proposal.
FEA has notified Headquarters that we are at impasse in bargaining the implementation of the spring BAS. We have contacted the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to intervene. A meeting with the FMCS is expected this month. While employees should follow directives from their supervisor, we expect Headquarters to comply with Federal labor laws.
See our BAS update for information on this issue.
TRANSFER PROGRAM -- We know of a few cases of excessed educators who were placed locally, at no cost to DoDEA. As per our discussions with DoDEA, the funds freed up by these situations should be used to pay for additional transfer placements later this month, starting with individuals in Group D. We should emphasize, however, that we expect only a very small number of additional placements as a result of this situation; DoDEA and Pentagon remain inflexible on the issue of properly funding a full transfer round.
FEA is very unhappy with the way the transfer program was run this year, and we know many of our members are also very upset by the lack of a full and robust transfer program. FEA has proposed that funding of excess educators be considered outside of the transfer program and not counted against the transfer program budget. This is because placement of these excess educators is something that DoDEA would have to fund regardless of the transfer program, so it should not deplete the funding available for actual transfers. DoDEA Headquarters rejected this point and in doing so set the stage for the anemic transfer program we had this year.
ADDITIONAL INFO ABOUT EXCESS --If you are an excess educator who applied for reconsideration and would like FEA to verify that your name is included on the reconsideration list, please contact Connie Shanaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All new vacancies should continue to be reported to DoDEA Headquarters for possible placements with unplaced excess educators and those excess educators requesting reconsideration. There are five remaining excess educators who have not yet received placements.
DODDS SALARIES -- A few questions have arisen from our DoDDS members about step increases and salary lane changes while the federal pay freeze is in effect. Both step increases and changes in salary lanes do remain in effect for those who qualify. The primary impact of the pay freeze is to keep the DoDDS salary schedules at their SY 2010-2011 levels until January 1, 2013. Although there will be no retroactive pay adjustments for DoDDS personnel this spring, you should still receive any step and/or lane increases you qualify for when the 2012-2013 school year starts in August. Likewise, if you were due a step and/or lane increase at the start of the current 2011-2012 school year, you should have received that increase. If at any time you feel you are or have been denied such an increase due to you, you should notify FEA immediately.
MILEAGE RATE CHANGE -- Effective April 17, the GSA updated its mileage rate to match the IRS rate of $0.555 per mile. Be sure to use this new rate if you are claiming reimbursement for mileage for any use of your personal vehicle after April 17, 2012.
HATCH ACT -- With this being an election year, questions about allowable political activities for federal employees are increasingly common. DoDEA's Office of the General Counsel recently sent out information and posted resources on the DoDEA Web site, seeking to give some general guidance to federal employees about the Hatch Act, use of social media and other election-related questions. You can find that information here.
ASIAN-PACIFIC ISLANDER MONTH -- May is Asian-Pacific Islander Month. Information to help you celebrate this month and incorporate it into the classroom can be found here.
SPECIAL DAYS -- The month of May includes several special observances honoring education employees. May 8 is National Teachers Day, part of Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-12, and May 9 is National School Nurses Day. Info on these events can be found here.
DDESS MOUs -- A pair of MOUs affecting the Master Labor Agreement between FEA's Stateside Region and DDESS have been posted to our Web site. The MOUs cover the 2012 Summer Enrichment Program and the "Rethink Autism" Pilot Program. Both are available here. (login required).
LEGAL UPDATE COMING -- Be on the lookout for an update from FEA's Legal Department coming out later this week. The update will cover important issues such as LQA, RAT, benefits in conjunction with PCS, TDY, and RAT travel.
CORRECTION FROM DODEA -- I wanted to call our members' attention to a memorandum sent out by DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald last week to all DoDEA Area Directors and DoDEA Headquarters employees. This memo was a correction to an earlier memo Ms. Fitzgerald sent out, in which she had mandated that all DoDEA employees on official travel must either use government lodging or obtain a "non-availability" statement if such facilities are not available. After this mandate was issued, FEA pointed out to Ms. Fitzgerald that the Joint Travel Regulations state that employees cannot be required to use government quarters. As a result, Ms. Fitzgerald issued last week's memo, acknowledging that her earlier mandate was not legally enforceable. FEA, as always, does encourage its members to use government lodging and facilities whenever possible for official travel in order to provide the maximum cost savings to taxpayers. However, should you ever be disciplined for not using such facilities, you should immediately notify FEA.
TRAVELS: HT Nguyen and I will be Europe this week for the European Area Council meeting in Wiesabaden. We will be attending an event on Thursday in Heidelberg. I will be visiting schools in Stuttgart on Monday (May 7). We will be attending training over the next two weeks in Korea (May 11), Okinawa (May 16) and Japan (May 18).
I hope you have a great week!