August 19, 2014 FEA President's Report
To: FEA Members Wordwide
From: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
Re: FEA President's Report
Date: August 19, 2014
Whether you have been in session for a few weeks like many of our DDESS schools or you are just starting back, like most of our overseas schools, I would like to wish you a great school year! FEA, as the worldwide advocate within the federal system for educators' rights and for quality education, stands ready to support you. As always, there is a lot to share, so I will start right in.
DODDS SALARY FREEZE LAWSUIT
FEA has filed a request for summary judgment in its lawsuit over the freeze in DODDS salaries. If successful, the request should result in an immediate end to the freeze. If our request is not granted by the judge, our lawsuit will proceed through normal channels. You can read more in the August FEA Journal.
Contracts between FEA and management for both DDESS and DODDS employees remain in a state of flux. The Master Labor Agreement between FEA-SR and DDESS remains at impasse, as both sides await an arbitrator's ruling over which side's proposals for various articles of the contract he finds acceptable. Meanwhile, FEA's Washington Office and DoDEA Headquarters continue working out ground rules on the negotiation of a new agreement covering DODDS employees. The existing contracts for DDESS and DODDS employees remain in effect until both FEA and management sign off on new agreements.
POST ALLOWANCE VICTORY
Just before the end of School Year 2013-14, we were happy to report that bargaining unit members in Korea had had their Post Allowance restored, thanks in part to lobbying by FEA/NEA. Over the summer, we had another victory as DoDEA agreed to pay bargaining unit members at Alconbury's two schools on a new, higher Post Allowance rate for their area. What's more, the affected employees received backpay with interest dating back to February 2014, when their Post Allowance should have first been increased. FEA urges members who were at Alconbury last school year to check their LES's to make sure they received the money owed to them. It should have appeared on your July 18 and August 1 pay.
ANOTHER BIG WIN
FEA has once again prevailed over management's attempt to use a limited interpretation of a DoD regulation that would have resulted in another barrier to gain entitlement to housing and transportation benefits. In a case out of the Pacific Region, a couple was married while the military husband was stateside. The military spouse was on an unaccompanied tour overseas. The military HR office told the military member to change his orders from "unaccompanied" to "accompanied" when he returned to his overseas post, which they did.
In the meantime, the wife received her DoD ID card and traveled overseas to join her husband. She used her DoD-issued ID card to travel to the overseas area and immigration gave her a SOFA stamp in her passport. She became a DoDEA local hire educator. Some years later, the couple divorced and she asked for LQA incident to the divorce. DoDEA took the position that the local hire was not entitled to receive LQA (housing benefits) because she had not initially traveled overseas on the military spouse's orders.
The arbitrator agreed with FEA that DoDEA's position that a local hire must initially travel on a sponsoring spouse's orders is not part of the applicable DoD regulation. The regulation requires a local hire to enter the overseas area as a spouse of someone eligible for LQA. The arbitrator found that she had entered the overseas area using her DoD issued ID card as the spouse of a military member who received quarters allowance, which met the requirement of the regulation. The arbitrator found that DoDDS position was a "substantial addition to it [the regulation] which appears to be contrary to the intent of the regulation itself." The arbitrator then held that "DoDDS interpretation is unreasonable" and that the local hire spouse was entitled to LQA as well as transportation benefits. Congratulations to FEA Pacific Uniserv Director/General Counsel Michael Bauernfeind on the big win!
If you are a DODDS Local Hire who was reassigned to Cuba for School Year 2014-2015, and was denied full benefits (Housing, Post Allowance, etc.) upon your move to Guantanamo, please inform FEA immediately by writing to this email
SHARING GOOD NEWS
If you have good news or best practices to share, about your school, your local association or a colleague, please send them with us at this email. As space allows, we can share those in Updates or the Journal, etc. Speaking of the FEA Journal, your "Back to School" issue should be coming to you soon, if it hasn't already arrived. This will have lots of important information about membership and its benefits.
CONTACTING FEA WASHINGTON
To reach me, the best email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. As some of you have experienced, DoDEA OWA is sometimes problematic! Other important contact information for our DC office, your Area Directors, local Presidents, and UniServ attorneys is in your FEA Pocket Calendar.
If your school has not received membership materials, please send us a message at email@example.com to let us know.
I will start this school year off with a visit to our members in Guantanamo Bay Aug 25 - 28, at least if no tropical storms come up! Much of September will be filled with travel to Europe and the Pacific.
STAY UP TO DATE
The best way to find out what's going on within DoDEA is by regularly reading the updates put out by your FEA Area Directors and myself. You can have my electronic updates sent directly to your Inbox by going here to sign up.