May 15 2018 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: May 15, 2018
As this update goes out, I am currently doing school visits in the Pacific. In our current DoDEA environment, when HQ is so out of touch with the realities of our schools, it is especially important for me to have time to speak directly with educators in our various locations. This has been a great trip so far, starting with a warm welcome in Sasebo. It is especially nice to be joined by Hanna Vaandering of the NEA Executive Committee for visits at Zama and in Okinawa. HT Nguyen, our Executive Director and General Counsel will be visiting schools with us as well. Many thanks to the local leaders here in the Pacific who have helped facilitate our trip.
TAXES AND RETIREMENT
Last week, FEA sent out an update on a pair of issues: the taxing of moving costs and allowances for civilian employees and the White House's efforts to make massive cuts to federal retirement benefits. FEA and NEA continue to monitor these issues but there have been no significant developments since last week. We will inform our members of any changes. You can read that update from last week at www.feaonline.org
FEA is still very concerned about management's proposals to change the laws that govern our stateside and overseas schools. Please continue to stay informed by going to our website for the latest updates on this potentially damaging proposal.
We've been made aware of a number of members not being authorized the 100 pounds per person for shipment of unaccompanied baggage on their RAT orders. We have informed DoDEA HQ of the issue. FEA's legal department will be sending out a separate update on this issue later this week.
PERFORMANCE EVALUATION SYSTEM
Please be aware that the Performance Evaluation System which management is rolling out has NOT been agreed to by the Association. It is our position that we have a signed MOU defining the Educator Performance Appraisal System (EPAS) as the agreed upon evaluation system for the educators in the overseas FEA Bargaining Unit. IF directed by management to sign new standards, an employee must comply. However, the Association has already filed an Association Grievance over this change.
For those members who are transferring OUTSIDE of the FEA Overseas Bargaining Unit, or for those who plan to resign/retire this year, be sure to file and elevate a "Goodbye Grievance" before your last duty day in the FEA Overseas Bargaining Unit. FEA UniServ Bill Freeman developed this form in order to protect retirees from erroneous and illegal debt collections after they leave the Bargaining Unit. The "Goodbye Grievance" as we now call it, has been upheld by a federal arbitrator who called it a "life line" for people who are no longer part of the Bargaining Unit. For copies of these forms, please see your FRS.
Good news is rare these days, but I continue to hear of members who are finally being paid what they are owed in the MA+ case for Overseas employees. For many of you who are still waiting, please remember that Bill Freeman is working these cases as quickly as possible, but DoDEA has NOT devoted sufficient resources to addressing these cases or the myriad of other pay issues which our members face. As Bill reminds members, be patient and you WILL be paid and you WILL receive interest!
For our overseas members, be on the lookout for your Retro Pay in an upcoming LES. As we have noted, this pay adjustment is due to an Association litigation and is one of the many current benefits that could be ended by DoDEA's proposed "Unified Law." For more information, see my May 1 update.
FEA is aware of the concerns with the current IT structure and lack of support felt by many of our educators. In many places, IT tickets take far too long to be resolved. Information is not forthcoming and too often it feels like IT is driving education instead of education determining IT needs. FEA continues to send these concerns to HQ, but so far DoDEA is unwilling to respond.
FED VIEW SURVEY
Right now, Federal employees have the opportunity to provide feedback to DoDEA via the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). Every eligible employee will receive a survey sometime later this spring. Employees are allowed to complete the survey during the workday. The responses of individuals will remain confidential, will not be individually identifiable in any way in the reports, and will have no impact on any individual's employment. The Association encourages all employees to participate in this important survey and to be sure YOUR voice is heard. If you are interested in seeing results from the 2017 FEVS, and supplementary reports using the FEVS data, you can visit this site. DoDEA's 2017 rating was its lowest yet, ranking in the bottom 5% of the agencies included. Despite the Agency apparently being unwilling to use this data to make improvements in the working climate and culture of our system, it is very important that DoDEA management hears what employees think about the direction of the agency.
FEA is proud to announce that Brian Chance, Kaiserslautern MS, is FEA's nominee for the 2019 NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. Brian will be honored with the other nominees at the annual NEA Foundation Gala in February. It is great to see one of the many outstanding educators and advocates in our schools recognized. Start thinking now of colleagues who you can nominate for this honor. Details on the dates and process will come out next school year.
SCHOOL YEAR ENDING
By the time our next update comes out, some of our stateside schools will already be getting ready to end the school year. For those schools, I wish all our members a relaxing, well-deserved summer break. For our members in other schools, hang in there! Summer is coming soon! By many accounts, this has been a stressful year. Hopefully relaxation is high on your "to do" list of summer. Just a few reminders - for those teachers stationed overseas, if you are returning to the States this summer, don't forget to renew your Driver's License, Voter Registration, or anything like that which might expire. Hopefully, you have also already checked the dates on your passports, ID cards, ration cards and other important documents to ensure those are up to date.
It seems things change quickly these days, so even over the summer it will be important that you stay informed by checking our website, for the latest information concerning our schools and our Association. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @FedEdAssoc If you are an FEA member, you should receive my twice-monthly FEA President's Report during the school year, and other special updates from the FEA DC office as they are put out, sent directly to your personal (not DoDEA) e-mail address. That's assuming, of course, that you've provided us with your e-mail. If you are a member and did not receive this update in your personal e-mail (but you've seen it through some other medium or because someone forwarded it to you), please send a message to FEA's Director of Communications, Gary Hritz, explaining that you've not been getting e-mails from us. Be sure to include your name, school and personal e-mail address in your message to Gary.