September 1, 2016 FEA President's Report
TO: FEA Members and Leaders Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: September 1, 2016
AND WE'RE OFF!
The school year is officially underway now throughout both Stateside and Overseas DoDEA schools. I hope everyone is off to a great start. Remember as you go through this year that FEA and NEA are always anxious to assist you in any way we can.
Below are just a few sites you may find useful, especially if you are new to DoDEA schools or to the education profession.
* NEA's Back to School Resources - A variety of resources including Classroom Setup, Preparing for the First Week, and Classroom Management Tips.
* NEA Member Benefits' Professional Resources Page - Includes Classroom Resources, Professional Development materials and information from Member Benefits on education loans and degree programs.
Speaking of Member Benefits, don't forget that site (www.neamb.com) is a great resource throughout the year for discounts and exclusive deals on things such as insurance, travel, credit cards, magazines and lots more. It's a fantastic perk of your Association membership, so please take advantage of it.
* Military Rank Insignias - The military personnel we serve deserve to be acknowledged with accuracy and respect. This site will help you learn and understand the various ranks within the military and how to recognize them.
LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE
Working with our NEA lobbyists to fight the huge increases that were recently announced for Long Term Care insurance rates for federal employees and retirees is one of our top priorities right now. Fortunately, we're not alone in that fight since hundreds of thousands of our fellow federal employees are similarly impacted. We're encouraging FEA members and retirees to write to Congress, calling on them to do something about these outrageous price increases. Go to feaonline.org to learn more (but only do so when you are off government property, no on duty and not using a government-owned computer).
LOOKOUT FOR UNFAIR LQA CUTS
If you are an FEA bargaining unit member who is entitled to his/her own LQA, is married to a military member, and has had your LQA reduced because your spouse receives a housing allowance, please let FEA know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Such a reduction is a violation of FEA's negotiated agreement with DODDS (Article 49, Section 2). Of course, if you are entitled to your own LQA and are married to another FEA bargaining unit member who receives LQA, your LQA (and your spouse's) should not be reduced either.
One of the issues delegates raised at our Annual FEA meeting when Mr. Brady met with us was that HR is still broken. While there are some responsive employees in the HR Branch, clearly, educators are not getting the support and service they need from DoDEA's HR Division. If you write to your HR rep and, after a reasonable time, do not receive a response, write again and copy your Association Representatives and your District Superintendent.
DODDS CONTRACT UPDATE
We reported to you in the August FEA Journal (available at feaonline.org) how management was attempting to renege on a previous agreement it had made while we continue to work out ground rules for negotiations, and how management was trying to use this as an excuse to impose its own ground rules on us. We took the issue to the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) and we just recently learned that the FSIP agrees with us that FEA and management are not at impasse over the ground rules negotiations and that management cannot impose its will on the proceedings. This is a great win for our members and will allow FEA to continue working toward a fair and equitable environment in which the new FEA/DODDS contract will be bargained.
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
DoDEA's SPED educators work through mountains of Federal and Agency regulations and laws, with little training or mentoring from Admin or ISS's. Meanwhile, DoDEA continues to push new and unnecessary procedures and regulations (like PWN) on our SPED Educators. DoDEA is currently proposing new and burdensome monitoring procedures. In the meantime, FEA has continued to advocate for changes that would relieve some of the burden of this paperwork and monitoring and allow SPED educators to focus their time and energy on students. FEA has repeatedly proposed that the CSC positions in our schools, responsible for much of this legal paperwork, be a staffed, dedication position rather than being relegated to an EDC/EDA for someone who already has a fulltime job. Rather than creating additional above school level positions, wouldn't it be better to put the staffing IN SCHOOLS where it can do the most good?
FEA always advises members to keep copies of their Leave and Earnings Statements and all other payroll records. Unfortunately, given the widespread and almost-always bogus payroll deductions and pay problems DoDEA employees are subject to, there is a good chance you will need those records at some point. In addition, FEA has posted a group of salary organizers you can use to help keep tabs on your pay, taxes, vacation earned, etc. You can find those organizers at this page. Special thanks to FEA members Larry Tjeltveit at SHAPE Elementary for creating the DODDS organizer and Mary-Lorraine L. Cox at Bowley Elementary School for creating the DDESS organizer in Excel format.
FEGLI OPEN SEASON
For the first time in 12 years, the Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) is having an Open Season. The open house runs from September 1 through September 30. During the Open Season, FEGLI-eligible employees can enroll in FEGLI or increase coverage up to the maximum offered by the program. FEGLI-eligible employees can elect any coverage the program offers, including Option C coverage on the lives of your spouse and eligible dependent children under age 22. Visit this site for more information.
In addition to subscribing to this FEA President's Report by going to feaonline.org/listserv.htm, you can receive news and updates from FEA via Facebook and Twitter @FedEdAssoc
Nominations are now open for the Area Director positions representing DDESS (Stateside DoDEA schools), the Pacific, and Europe. Any Active FEA member can nominate themselves or another Active member. Nomination materials have been sent to your schools, were printed in the August FEA Journal, and are available at www.feaonline.org. Nominations must be RECEIVED by October 14, 2016.
LILY ESKELSEN GARCIA
FEA is very grateful to be visited this month by NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who will be attending the Association Day activities in England later this month. It's hard to believe just how busy Lily's schedule is, yet she always seems to find time to visit with our members every year -- maybe it's her background as a military dependent and former DoDEA student that endears us to her. I'm sure our members will welcome Lily warmly and be greatly impressed and inspired by her.
In a few days I'll be leaving for Europe to attend FRS trainings as well as the Europe Area Council, then heading to the Pacific later this month to do the same in Korea, Okinawa and Japan before attending the Pacific Area Council meeting. In October, I will be attending the FEA Stateside Area Council Meeting in Nashville. Thanks for understanding if I'm unable to respond promptly to any messages sent to me over the next month.