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FEA President's Report

TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: December 17, 2020


OVERSEAS CONTRACT STATUS


As we head into the winter break, the outcome of negotiations on a new Overseas contract remains up in the air. Following 30 days of renegotiations, which began after FEA Overseas members overwhelmingly voted in October to reject the tentative agreement, the two sides remain divided on many contract issues. DoDEA is again seeking to have the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) assert jurisdiction over the negotiations process. Meanwhile, FEA recently filed an Association Grievance against DoDEA, alleging the agency has not bargained in good faith. There will be a lot of issues to sort out in the new year. We will update members on the Overseas contract status whenever new developments occur.


HCR COORDINATOR POSITION


FEA's current State Human and Civil Rights (HCR) Coordinator has indicated she intends to resign from the position, meaning the FEA Board of Directors must appoint a member to fill the vacancy for the remaining term for the HCR Coordinator position. This is an At-Large office on the FEA Board of Directors, so it can be filled by any Active member of the Association worldwide. Those who wish to be considered for appointment to complete the remainder of the HCR Coordinator's term, which will end on August 1, 2022, must complete our Showing of Interest form by 11:59pm ET on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. You can find a link to that Showing of Interest form and learn more about the HCR Coordinator position and vacancy by going to this page. Remember the January 5 deadline!


COVID CLOSURES


We are reminded that Covid-19 remains a very serious threat and FEA urges all members to continue practicing extreme vigilance and adherence to health and safety guidelines. There are Covid-related closures happening in Stateside schools and all schools in Germany were closed this week. Korea will go to Health Protection Condition Charlie this Saturday, which would have resulted in schools closing if it did not coincide with the start of the DoDEA winter break. Additional closings are happening in the Pacific and Europe as well. FEA has consistently urged DoDEA to shift all schools worldwide to remote learning so long as the virus remains a widespread threat.


PAYROLL TAX DEFERRAL


We have yet to receive any definitive information from DoDEA or DFAS regarding how employees' paychecks will be impacted in 2021 as a result of the payroll tax deferral the White House mandated for all federal employees the last several months of 2020. Information from various news sources indicates employees should expect to see their Social Security tax withholding significantly higher -- possibly double the normal rate -- the first four months of 2021 in order to make up for the Social Security taxes that were not withheld from your pay during part of 2020. Additionally, to our knowledge, no information has been given by DoDEA/DFAS to any employees who retired or separated in the latter part of 2020 regarding how they are expected to repay the taxes deferred from their paychecks since September of this year. The IRS has said, however, that all deferred taxes are expected to be paid by individuals by April 30 of 2021. FEA will let members know if/when the government provides any additional details. Meanwhile, as always, we recommend members seek out a certified tax professional if you need advice on your unique situation.


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY


Registration for the credit-approved course Cultural Humility for Educators, developed by FEA Europe's Human and Civil Rights Program, is now open to all FEA members worldwide! From Feb 8 to Mar 19, 2021, educators will learn to consider their place in a diverse society of learners, their interpersonal relationships, and the institutions in which they practice. Recorded sessions allow members worldwide to participate. Reserve your spot today! Learn more by downloading the information sheet and register for the event by going to
the online registration site.


WATCH FOR YOUR BALLOT


On December 18, FEA will mail ballots directly to all Active Members worldwide, asking you to vote on a proposed amendment to the FEA Constitution and to conditionally elect someone to serve in a possible new office on the FEA Board of Directors: Education Support Professional (ESP) Coordinator. The question of whether to create the ESP Coordinator position, along with language affecting Human and Civil Rights Coordinators at the FEA Area level, is to be decided by FEA members when they vote on the proposed amendment to the FEA Constitution. If the amendment is passed by a majority of voting members, the ESP Coordinator position will be created and votes for the office will be tallied. If the amendment is not passed by a majority of voting members, the ESP Coordinator position will not be created and votes for that position will not be tallied. Additional information on the vote can be found at FEA's election info page and also in the December FEA Journal newsletter, mailed this week to all members. In order to be tallied, members' votes must be returned to FEA and RECEIVED at our Washington DC election mailing address by February 17, 2021. Please watch for your ballot packet in the mail and use it to vote.


GOODBYE 2020


In a few days, the winter break will commence for DoDEA employees. The past year has been an incredibly difficult and challenging one, unlike anything any of us have ever faced before. As we move into 2021, many of those challenges will remain, though I hope I am not being overly optimistic to say there at least appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I wish all of you a happy holiday season and a very safe and restful winter break.