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June 1 2013 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Michael Priser, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: June 1, 2013

FURLOUGHS -- As of now, the threat of five furlough days for 9-month DoDEA employees and 11 furlough days for all other employees still stands. FEA will continue to fight this harmful decision in any way we can. We are grateful to Senators Mark Warner, Kay Hagan and Kirsten Gillibrand for writing directly to the Secretary of Defense and requesting that DoDEA staff be exempted from the furloughs. We wish more of their colleagues on Capitol Hill had that kind of respect and concern for education now that it really matters. Visit www.feaonline.org to find out what you can do to help us continue the fight.

FURLOUGH RESPONSE LETTER -- By law, employees have 20 calendar days to respond to furlough notices they receive from management. Your furlough notice should indicate a "deciding official" to whom you should send this response (typically, it will be someone in your District Superintendent's Office). DoDDS bargaining unit members are urged to use the sample response letter FEA has posted at this page. DDESS members should check with your local association president on how to proceed. Please retain both your furlough notice and any reply you receive from management to the response letter you send your deciding official.

BACK PAY FOR GRADUATE CREDIT -- You'll recall FEA Attorney Bill Freeman won a HUGE victory for FEA members last year involving back pay owed by DoDDS after the agency failed to properly recognize and pay for graduates credits earned by many employees prior to the awarding of their first Master's Degree. ( read the legal update on that decision here)

Recently, the arbitrator in the case ruled that back pay will be granted for graduate credits earned as far back as June 4, 2001 -- exactly as FEA was hoping he would rule! This legal victory will result in many members who had not received proper payment for their graduate credits receiving thousands of dollars in back pay owed to them.

In order to ensure accurate information (and, therefore, accurate reimbursement) for all those affected, Bill Freeman recently put out a reminder for those who think they are owed money under this case to submit affidavits to him. If necessary, Bill will use these affidavits to compel DoDDS to fully and accurately compensate those affected.

Although this case specifically affects improper payments to DODDS educators, any DDESS employee who also worked in DoDDS since the June 4, 2001, back-pay cutoff date may also be impacted, as may any employee who separated or retired from DoDDS since then, especially if they filed a Goodbye Grievance. Read the update cited above and Bill's most recent update on this issue (available here) to learn more and to obtain the affidavit of graduate credit that you must complete and submit to Bill Freeman so he can be sure you receive what is owed to you.

To help Bill prepare for any potential legal action, affected educators are asked to submit their affidavit to him as quickly as possible.

OKLAHOMA TORNADO RELIEF -- Our brothers and sisters at the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) have set up a Tornado Relief Fund to help OEA members who suffered loss or were adversely affected by the tornados that swept through that state May 19 and 20. To make a donation, visit this page.

TEACHER HALL OF FAME -- The National Teachers Hall of Fame is seeking nominations. Recipients of this honor must have at least 20 years of classroom teaching experience, among other requirements. Learn more about the award and obtain nomination materials by going to this page.

FEA ANNUAL MEETING -- A reminder that the FEA Annual Membership meeting will be held June 30 and July 1 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting is open to all FEA members, active or retired, and is a great opportunity to learn more about your Association and meet with your fellow FEA members, as well as FEA's elected leadership. Registration is not necessary but, for planning purposes, you are asked to let the FEA staff know in advance if you plan to attend (email us here). As always, the FEA Annual Membership meeting will take place immediately before the NEA Representative Assembly, also in Atlanta.

BON VOYAGE -- This is my last regularly scheduled update of school year 2012-2013, and my last as FEA President. I would like to thank all FEA members for the honor of serving as Association President these past six years. As I said in my FEA Journal article last month: it's been an interesting ride. To those of you who are retiring or otherwise leaving DoDEA: thank you for a job very well done and may you find happiness in all your future endeavors. To those who, like me, will be returning next school year: have a safe, relaxing and fun summer break. We will all have much to deal with next school year, with the threat of furloughs looming large, new leadership at DoDEA, and the ongoing war against federal employees still being waged by some in Congress. Use the summer to recharge and relax and, as you do every year, come back ready to provide an outstanding education to the students we love to serve.

Thank you again and have a great summer!

Michael