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May 1 2015 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: May 1, 2015

CLOSINGS AT ANSBACH

We learned a few days ago that two schools at Ansbach, -- Rainbow and Illesheim elementaries -- will be closing at the end of the current school year. Unfortunately, our members have had to deal with a number of school closings in recent years -- including this year at Cummings and Menwith Hill -- and RIF notices in DDESS as well. But the late notice of these school closings is especially stressful for those involved.

FEA has been working with DoDEA management very closely the past few days to develop a plan for dealing with these last-minute closings. Our Executive Director, HT Nguyen, and Director of Administration, Connie Shanaghan, along with other members of our Washington staff and our representatives in Europe, have been reviewing management's proposals and offering improvements where necessary.

The process of placing the 50 employees affected by these school closings (45 at the two elementary schools plus 5 from Ansbach High that are being excessed due to decreased student population) will begin on May 5. FEA Europe Area Director Alex Veto and Bavaria Division Representative Terry McClain will be there to represent our educators.

Any of those 50 affected employees who apply and qualify for VERA/VSIP will receive it. For those who still remain and need placement, management will seek volunteers among the employees of the Bavaria District to voluntarily be excessed and considered for VERA/VSIP. A limited number of VERA/VSIPs will be offered only to those volunteers whose departure would create a position that can be filled by one of the affected educators in a 1-to-1 match (or one of the 10 remaining excessed educators unplaced after the transfer program), in order to increase the number of possible placements within the Bavaria District. Management officials will be able to instantly provide retirement estimates for those interested in applying, but your decision will have to be made quickly and will be irrevocable.

If necessary to place more affected employees, HQ may also approve additional VSIP/VERA applications worldwide from applicants who submitted their applications in January 2015.

To say this is a horrible situation would be a massive understatement, but FEA will continue working with management to ensure that all employees affected by these closings who wish to remain in DODDS will have every opportunity to do so, and be placed as close as possible to their current location. Unfortunately, however, some distant moves may be necessary in order for everyone to remain in DODDS.


WIN IN PAY FREEZE CASE

A federal judge has ruled in favor of FEA's contention that the federal civilian employee pay freeze that was imposed upon DODDS employees should have ended on January 1, 2014, the same day it ended for all other affected employees. This means that most FEA DODDS members will be eligible to receive a retroactive pay adjustment for the increase they should have received between January 1, 2014, and the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The amount of that pay adjustment will vary depending upon which salary lane and step you are on. Some members may receive hundreds of dollars while others may receive only a few dollars. A handful of members would receive no adjustment because the salary amounts they should have been paid for that part of SY 13-14 had not increased since the SY 10-11 schedule they were actually paid on for that period.

The judge's decision is a major victory in FEA's fight against the unfairness of the salary freeze. Unfortunately, the judge did not agree with FEA's contention that the salary freeze was never applicable at all to DODDS members.

A timeline for payment of the money owed has not yet been worked out between FEA and the federal government. We will continue to update members on this case as things progress.


RETRO PAY

Management has informed us that DODDS employees will receive the retroactive pay adjustment due to them as part of their May 22 pay check. For most members, this pay adjustment should amount to over a thousand dollars (before taxes and other withholding). You'll recall this retro pay was won for our DODDS members by FEA as part of the "March case" decades ago and represents the difference between what you were paid this school year and what you should have been paid under the SY 14-15 DODDS salary schedules that were recently finalized by FEA and management. The retro pay is especially large this year because DODDS employees had not seen their pay increase since the 2010-2011 school year.

Please note that this retroactive pay adjustment is completely independent of the retro pay most members will receive as a result of FEA's victory in the pay freeze lawsuit mentioned above. The timing and other details of that retro pay have yet to be worked out between FEA and management. We will inform our members of when they can expect to receive that retro pay as soon as those details are finalized.


QUESTION ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS

Some members have sought clarification about a question on the DOD background check OF 306 form. The question asks whether an employee is DELINQUENT (caps added) on any federal debt. Members are wondering how they should answer this question if they are dealing with a debt collection notice from the government.

To paraphrase FEA Pacific UniServ Attorney Michael Bauerfeind, who has answered this question for several members, there is no reason to answer "Yes" to the question about whether you are delinquent on any federal debt if any of the following conditions apply:
1. The member has requested a debt collection hearing over the alleged debt
2. The alleged debt claim has been included in any Association action such as arbitration
3. The member is paying of an overpayment of LQA (for example, by paying $25 per pay period until the overpayment is paid off).
If any of the above apply to your situation, you should not answer "Yes" to the question about whether you are delinquent on any federal debt.

As always, please consult with your FEA building rep if you have additional questions and that person can help you obtain the necessary legal advice/assistance.


OPM SURVEY

The Office of Personnel Management is conducting its annual Federal Employees Viewpoint Survey this spring. Employees are allowed to complete the survey during the workday and it is completely voluntary. If you are asked to complete the survey, FEA urges you to do so. You can view results of the 2014 survey by going to this page.


RAND MATH SURVEY

DoDEA is also conducting a survey for math teachers. FEA encourages all those asked to complete the survey to do so.


TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

May 3-9 is Teacher Appreciation Week, with special observances set aside for National Teacher Day (May 5) and National School Nurses Day (May 6). Of course, FEA appreciates teachers and all school personnel every day of the year. We know your students and their parents appreciate you as well (even though some of them try pretty hard not to show it!). Enjoy your special week and know that what you do is so very important and influential in the lives of countless young people. Thank you!!