May 16, 2019 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: May 16, 2019
FIGHTING AGAINST STATESIDE CONTRACT VIOLATIONS
The Association continues to fight against DoDEA's illegal implementation of the still unsigned (in fact, still unseen!) successor Master Labor Agreement for Stateside schools and, in particular, the unlawful implementation of the tentative agreement within that unsigned MLA governing DoDEA's use of 24 unpaid hours per academic quarter.
As our Stateside members know all too well, management has not only illegally implemented the use of those 24 hours, it is also doing so in violation of the intent of the tentative agreement reached by FEA-Stateside Region (FEA-SR) and DoDEA. That tentative agreement called for such hours to be used only on an "as needed" basis for special meetings, events and training opportunities; NOT to extend the Stateside duty day on a regular basis, as is being done.
Stateside schools are being harmed due to the hurtful effects of DoDEA forcing its employees to give up 24 hours per academic quarter to sit in pointless meetings and undergo useless "trainings", which typically consist either of content the educators learned back in college or information they have no use for to begin with.
Employees who no longer have enough time to complete their school-related obligations are being forced to resign their extra-duty assignments so they can still see their families for a few hours each night. Others have simply decided they've had enough and are resigning/retiring from their teaching positions and careers with DoDEA (which, sadly, seems to be management's goal given its horrendous treatment of employees).
The losers, of course, are the students who now have less access to teachers and must wait longer to get assignments back because the teachers have to spent hours every week in management's useless meetings -- time those teachers used to be able to spend doing work and helping students.
If the goal of Tom Brady and his DoDEA management is to destroy a world-class school system, then this is the way to do so.
A VALUABLE SPOKESPERSON
We were fortunate to have one of our Stateside members be willing to take Leave Without Pay earlier this week and accompany a lobbyist from NEA Government Relations to Capitol Hill, where they spent the day meeting with lawmakers and informing them of DoDEA's illegal and harmful actions against educators. Such first-person information about the harm DoDEA is doing to the working and learning environment in Stateside schools is incredibly important in making lawmakers see the need to intervene. Our thanks to this member for taking Leave Without Pay to make sure lawmakers hear the truth about DoDEA and thanks also to Sylvia Johnson from NEA Government Relations for meeting with lawmakers throughout this week to seek relief from management's harmful actions in our Stateside schools.
DoDEA management is insisting on starting bargaining of a new Overseas contract during the summer months, when our bargaining unit members are not on duty. This is in violation of the existing and still legally valid Overseas contract as well as the ground rules for bargaining imposed by the Federal Service Impasses Panel. FEA has filed for arbitration over this violation and an arbitrator will eventually settle the issue.
Meanwhile, because of management's insistence on violating the rules, we will have to begin the first phase of bargaining this summer without educators present for the initial six weeks of face-to-face bargaining. Overseas bargaining unit members will participate when the bargaining enters is second phase -- virtual bargaining conducted remotely -- at the beginning of the new school year.
That initial round of face-to-face bargaining is currently scheduled to begin the week of June 17.
The fact DoDEA is going to such extremes to exclude educators from bargaining of their own contract speaks volumes about the low regard the Agency has for the working people in its schools. Emboldened by the anti-labor policies of the White House and agencies like the FSIP, DoDEA is increasingly requiring FEA to invoke arbitration and take other legal actions to enforce policies and procedures that the law already proscribes. It is an agency run amok and such an organization is destined for self-destruction.
DoDEA's Labor/Management team seems intent upon spending the absolute minimum time required in bargaining over a new contract for Overseas workers, so it can quickly run to the White-House-appointed Federal Service Impasses Panel and ask that body to impose management's harmful contract terms upon workers.
Similar tactics were used last year by Betsy DeVos to impose a harmful contract upon Department of Education employees and, more recently, by the Department of Health and Human Services against its workers. And, of course, these same tactics were used against our own FEA Stateside members, as discussed above.
The harmful provisions DoDEA has proposed -- such as seeking to eliminate many grievance rights, extending the duty day (without added pay) and tours of duty, and discontinuing the transfer program -- would permanently damage the working and learning environment in overseas schools. Of course, DoDEA management has been eroding that environment for several years now, so there's no reason to believe the present management will see the error of its ways before it's too late.
FEA will continue to fight for a strong contract, despite the system currently being rigged against employees and their unions. Go to this page to read our update on each side's contract proposals and to read the full text of those proposals. We'll continue to post information to that page as the negotiation process gets underway.
SCHOOL YEAR ENDING
By the time our next update comes out, some of our stateside schools will already have ended their school year. I know it has been an exceptionally difficult year for our stateside members, particularly since the illegal imposition of additional duty hours with no benefit to teachers or students. For those schools, I wish all our members a well-deserved and relaxing summer break.
For our members in other schools, hang in there! Summer is coming soon! By all accounts, this has been a stressful year for everyone. Hopefully relaxation is high on your "to do" list for 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. Stateside members are reminded to check their driver's licenses/IDs as well, since many states are requiring new IDs to comply with federal security laws.
As has been said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. DoDEA has now taken this to a new level. Teachers have repeatedly given DoDEA feedback that the ELA training by Catapult has not been effective. Our surveys and even DoDEA's own evaluations show that teachers do not feel the training was effective. In addition, management's own program evaluations show that the skills supposedly taught by Catapult are not reflected in classroom practice. So what does DoDEA do? Extends the contract for an additional year. It was not effective, so DoDEA has decided to pay more money for more of the same!
A reminder for ALL bargaining unit members to complete the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS -- also known as the FedView survey). This is your opportunity to let DoDEA management know EXACTLY what you think of your working conditions and the environment they have created. OPM began sending out links to the survey last week. Look for an e-mail from EVDD@opm.gov or USASurvey@opm.gov. Your survey link will only work once so do not share it with anyone. Responses are confidential. The survey takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete but your input is vitally necessary, so please take the time to fill out the complete survey. DoDEA is fond of saying it is a "data driven" organization. Let's see what the data says when employees get to rate their working conditions!
WORLD ESP DAY
May 16 is World ESP Day. Education Support Professionals play a huge role in the success of our schools and all too often go without the recognition they deserve. World ESP Day reminds how valuable and important ESP are. Thanks for all you do everyday!
NEA MEMBER BENEFITS
As summer approaches, be sure to check out the new NEA MB site for information about saving on your summer travel. These benefits are available to you as NEA members. NEA Member Benefits site
INFORMATION FOR DODDS TEACHERS TRANSFERRING TO ANOTHER REGION
If you are an overseas FEA member who pays dues through payroll deductions and you are transferring at the end of the school year, you may need to stop and restart your payroll deductions. This applies to:
1. Current Pacific teachers who are transferring out of the Pacific or to another Pacific district, such as a move from Okinawa to Japan or from Korea to Okinawa. Members should email their SF 1188 by the end of the school year to Linda Concepcion, FEA Pacific Membership Chairperson at PAC_PRO@outlook.com.
2. Current Europe teachers who are transferring out of Europe. Members should email their SF 1188 by the end of the school year to Brandy Davis, FEA European Membership Processor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These teachers will need to cancel payroll deductions in their current location and restart them in their new location. Prior to leaving their current location, they should submit form SF1188 to cancel payroll deductions. Then, once they arrive in their new location, they should submit form SF 1187 to begin payroll deductions. This procedure is necessary because of the variation in local dues among areas. If you have any questions, please contact your Area Director.
(Please note, employees who are retiring or resigning should ALSO submit a from SF 1188 to cancel this payroll deduction.)
The May FEA Journal, including summations of the Stateside and Overseas contact issues, an update on the pending court decision over anti-worker Executive Orders, and lots more issues affecting our members, is now in the mail and available at www.feaonline.org.
I am visiting with member in Japan this week and next week will be joined in South Korea and Okinawa by FEA Executive Director/General Counsel H.T. Nguyen and NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia for visits with members in those countries. We are very excited to have Lily visiting with our members and are so grateful for her time. Thank you for your continued patience if it takes awhile to respond to messages during these visits.