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August 22 2012 FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Michael Priser, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: August 22, 2012



WELCOME BACK -- OK, technically some of our DDESS schools and a few schools in Europe have been in session for several weeks already, but it's my first update of the new school year, so I'll begin by saying "welcome back and I hope you all had a fantastic summer."


ANOTHER HUGE WIN -- Throughout our history and especially over the past 10 years, FEA attorneys have dedicated thousands of hours protecting members against unfair (and often completely bogus) debt collection cases.

A recent arbitrator's decision, won by FEA attorney Bill Freeman, will help to protect members against such claims even after they have retired and left DoDEA.

In the past, DoDEA and DFAS have sometimes dropped a collection threat or reimbursed money collected from an employee because FEA had come to that employee's defense. However, once that employee was retired (and, in the minds of DoDEA and DFAS, the employee was no longer protected by FEA) the debt claim would be reinstated and the retiree told he must repay the debt or have his pension diminished.

In Europe, FEA attorneys have long employed the "goodbye grievance" as a way to retain representation over an employee into retirement. An earlier arbitration decision, issued last school year, affirmed the validity of the goodbye grievance.

Now, the arbitration Bill Freeman recently won says that if FEA wins a pay arbitration, the arbitrator will maintain jurisdiction for LIFE. This will prevent DoDEA from collecting an illegal debt, paying it back and then waiting a few years and trying to collect it again -- forcing the teacher to re-arbitrate it. DoDEA has done this many times in the past. (DoDEA Headquarters appealed the arbitrator's ruling protecting educators from these repetitive debt collections. DoDEA lost that appeal.)

Together with the earlier arbitrator's decision affirming the use of the goodbye grievance, this means that members can be sure they are protected by FEA against bogus pay claims long after they have retired (provided they filed the goodbye
grievance before retiring).

Attorney Freeman has been working toward this victory for more than 10 years. Congratulations Bill! And congratulations to all FEA members, who can now be even more certain their retirements will be protected by FEA.


ID CARDS FOR DOMESTIC PARTNERS -- In response to an inquiry from FEA, we were informed this summer that a policy directive is in the works for the issuing of DoD ID cards to the same-sex domestic partners of civilian employees and their dependents. Although DoD recently authorized issuing benefits such as transportation allowances, post allowances, and living quarters allowances to such domestic partners, their inability to obtain an ID card restricts their access to other services such as access to the base, shopping at the BX/PX, etc. The memoranda authorizing issuance of such ID cards is undergoing DoD's legal review process now and, if no issues or conflicts arise, is expected to be ready for signature late this year or early in 2013.


MOUs SIGNED -- It's been a busy summer for FEA's legal staff as they have negotiated several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) affecting the FEA/DoDDS Negotiated Agreement. Since June, MOUs have been signed on the following topics:
  • Implementation of a Laptop Pilot in DoDEA

  • Revised ESL (English as a Second Language) Standards, Language Proficiency Levels and Language Proficiency Assessment

  • ASPEN Special Education Data Management System

  • Addition of Four New High School Mathematics Courses in DoDDS

You can view the above MOUs and others by going to www.feaonline.org/mous.htm (member login is required)


THANKS -- In the past two weeks I have visited the following DDESS locals: Fort Knox (Support and Teachers), Fort Campbell (Support and Teachers), Fort Rucker, Fort Benning, Maxwell Air Force Base, Fort Jackson, Fort Stewart (Support and Teachers) and Laurel Bay. In the weeks ahead I'll visit Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune (Support and Teachers), Quantico and West Point (Support and Teachers). In September, I'll be attending FRS trainings for the Heidelberg and Kaiserslautern districts in Europe as well as for Japan, Okinawa and Korea. I want to thank all those leaders and members who have met with me so far -- your hospitality is always overwhelming, as is the opportunity to observe first-hand the great work you do everyday with students. Thanks in advance to all of you I will be seeing in the weeks ahead. I know the start of the school year is a busy time and I thank you for taking the time to meet with me.


MORE THANKS -- I especially want to begin this school year by thanking the many FRSs, FRs and Association officers, as well as the District Reps and Area Directors, for your service to the members throughout SY 12-13. The work you do is just incredible, and so very important to the well-being of students and staff.


AND OF COURSE -- Thank you and a very big "Good Luck" to all of our new and returning Association members around the world. You are the greatest faculty and staff anywhere and it is FEA's extreme honor to represent you. I hope you all have a fantastic 2012-13 school year!


STAY INFORMED -- This twice-monthly FEA President's Report, along with periodical special updates on legal and other issues, can be sent directly to your e-mail by signing up to our listserv at www.feaonline.org/listserv.htm. You will need to sign in using your FEA Membership ID number and your last name.


That's all for now. Have a great week!