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May 2, 2019 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: May 2, 2019


FIGHTING FOR STATESIDE EMPLOYEES

As highlighted in a recent update (available here), FEA-Stateside Region is working closely with NEA's Government Relations staff and the FEA DC office to educate decision-makers in Washington about the incredibly harmful atmosphere DoDEA has created in its Stateside schools by illegally implementing the disputed terms of an unsigned successor Master Labor Agreement for Stateside educators. DoDEA is using this illegally and unilaterally implemented "contract" to impose additional, uncompensated work hours in violation of the intent of a tentative agreement on the added time included within that contract. The damage this situation has done and continues to do to the morale of Stateside employees and their ability to complete their duties is horrendous. I cannot imagine why any school system would think treating its employees so horribly would have anything but a completely negative impact on student learning. Sadly, it's yet another example of the complete mismanagement of our school system. FEA-SR, FEA and NEA are doing all we can to make sure those who oversee DoDEA are aware of the damage being done and urging them to intervene before the entire system is permanently ruined.


OVERSEAS CONTRACT BARGAINING

FEA and DoDEA recently exchanged proposals for a new Overseas Negotiated Agreement. While FEA's proposals -- coming largely from suggestions members have submitted to us -- strive to improve the working and learning environment, DoDEA's are focused solely upon denying employees' rights and making working conditions as unfavorable as possible. Again, I am at a loss to understand how DoDEA management thinks attacking its most important employees -- those who work with students every single day! -- could in any way be good for the learning environment.

FEA will fight DoDEA's harmful proposals with everything we've got and all the support we can muster. As we've seen recently, however, the entire apparatus meant to provide fair hearings and mediation through bodies such as the Federal Service Impasses Panel and Federal Labor Relations Authority has been turned against FEA and other employees' unions. This week, in fact, the Department of Health and Human Services is imposing a very negative contract on its employees over the objections of their union. Our fight will be a challenging one but we will never stop fighting because to do otherwise would be to admit that DoDEA management and it's terrible treatment of employees is somehow acceptable. It is not!

You can read more about the proposals from both FEA and DoDEA and keep updated on the Overseas contract negotiation process in the weeks and months ahead by going to www.feaonline.org/overseascontract


MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

After being denied the opportunity in recent years, we have been informed that FEA bargaining unit members this year will be included in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS -- or Fed View). The Fed View survey measures employee satisfaction with their workplace. DoDEA has ranked near the bottom of this list in recent years. Completing the survey takes about 20-30 minutes but your input is desperately needed so that DoDEA management and other government officials will hear what employees think of the state of DoDEA. All replies are kept confidential. An email is to be sent to all employees sometime this month to invite you to complete the survey. That email will come from EVDD@opm.gov. Please be on the lookout for it and complete the survey, telling DoDEA management exactly what you think about they way they are treating employees. Silence means consent, so speak up!


OVERSEAS LEGAL WINS

A pair of recent legal victories demonstrates how effective the Association can be in protecting members' rights when given a fair playing field on which to make our arguments.

An arbitrator sided with FEA recently in a grievance over DoDEA's illegal implementation of the Defense Performance Management and Appraisal Program (DPMAP, also known as "New Beginnings") in our Overseas bargaining unit in 2018. The arbitrator ruled DoDEA's actions violated applicable laws and our Overseas Negotiated Agreement by disregarding a Memorandum of Understanding between FEA and management that designated the Educator Performance Appraisal System (EPAS) as the appraisal system of record for the Overseas bargaining unit. The arbitrator ordered DoDEA to reinstate EPAS and to make whole any adversely affected bargaining unit members.

In a second case, argued by FEA Pacific UniServ Robin Smith, the Association fought the unfair removal of an employee over a recertification issue. An arbitrator ruled in our favor and ordered the employee to be reinstated.

When heard before a neutral arbitrator or an unbiased body, FEA can and will continue to prevail for members. The current danger is that government entities such as the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Service Impasses Panel -- which are supposed to be neutral bodies intended to fairly mediate and resolve disputes between labor and management -- are now packed with anti-union/anti-worker activists. So long as this remains the case, DoDEA feels confident it can simply appeal to one of these bodies to uphold any of its actions and overturn unfavorable decisions from arbitrators. FEA, however, will continue to fight to uphold our members' rights.


OVERSEAS GOODBYE GRIEVANCE

Once again, a retiree has received an unsubstantiated debt letter for a huge amount..$90,000 this time! If you are an Overseas employee who is resigning/retiring or moving to a bargaining unit outside of FEA's Overseas bargaining unit, please remember to file and elevate your "Goodbye Grievance" before your last duty day. This will invoke your rights and allow FEA to represent you after you are no longer in the FEA Overseas bargaining unit.


NOT ABOUT STUDENTS

It becomes clearer all the time that DoDEA's focus is no longer on our students. From the ill-advised staffing cuts and elimination of programs like FLES while keeping hundreds of useless above school positions, to the elimination of courses like Chem Apps and Phys Apps, to the efforts to impose harmful contracts on Stateside and Overseas members, DoDEA is no longer about what's best for students. The main focus is clearly consolidating power at the Mark Center and silencing any opposition. FEA, however, understands that students are not well served when educators are disrespected, their professional input is ignored, and when the educators are saddled with more and more, often meaningless, tasks. FEA, working with NEA and other allies, will continue to use every avenue possible to advocate for what is best for our members AND our students.


TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, but given management's recent actions about our contracts, our working conditions, and the growing micromanagement of our classrooms, I know many DoDEA teachers are NOT feeling appreciated right now. However, I want to use part of this update to show MY appreciation for the work our educators around the world do for military-connected students every day. As I have traveled to every location that FEA represents, both stateside and overseas, I have seen amazing educators at work. Our educators work long hours far beyond the duty day, spend their own money for supplies, set high standards and expectations, and create a positive, stable learning environment for students...our educators have given DoDEA a record and a reputation that is the envy of other school systems. That record is due to the efforts of the people who work with students every day. The strength of DoDEA is the caring, dedicated, and highly skilled professionals who work in our schools. Take time to reflect on the great work you do, be sure to compliment a colleague, and know that you DO make a difference. Thank you! For more information about this celebration go to NEA's National Teacher Day page.


NATIONAL SCHOOL NURSE DAY

Next week, we also have a chance to honor our school nurses. Wednesday, May 8 is National School Nurse Day. We are very fortunate in DoDEA to have school nurses in almost all of our schools. Our amazing nurses are vital to the health and well being of our students and staff. FEA thanks you and salutes you! For more information, as well as related information for our nurses, go to NEA's School Nurses Day page.


ASIAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have contributed to politics, military, medicine, aviation, entertainment, and sports in the United States. Celebrate their heritage and contributions with these lessons and activities.


PRESIDENT'S TRAVELS

Before the next Update goes out, I will be heading to the Pacific for school visits and meetings, starting in Japan. During that time, I will have limited access to email, so please be patient.