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November 30 2009 FEA Stateside Update

Dear Colleagues,
I hope this finds you rested a bit from the Thanksgiving holiday break!

Support Master Labor Agreement: After almost a year of waiting for a decision on the ULP filed against the Agency for the implementation of the contract for our Support professionals, the FLRA recently issued a complaint against the Agency stating that the implementation of the Support Master Labor Agreement by the Agency was indeed wrong. The miserable mid year implementation hurt our members terribly and has eroded our faith in the decision-making of DODEA to do the right thing for its employees. The FLRA has contacted both parties and will attempt a settlement agreement in the near future. There is no doubt that we will not agree to the MLA as is, with provisions that hurt our members. A decision has yet to be made as to whether the MLA will be completely discarded or an attempt will be made to modify it.

VERA: A recent notification for VERA opportunities for teachers was distributed in DDESS. This notification was sent in coordination with notices that were also sent to certified staff members in DoDDS- Europe and DoDDS -- Pacific. After contacting the Human Resource Office at Peachtree City we learned that a similar notice may be forthcoming for DDESS ESP at the beginning of calendar year 2010.

Educational Leave Programs: Teachers interested in applying for Educator Leave should follow the provisions of the Master Labor Agreement which state: "All bargaining unit members who wish to apply for any of the Agency educational leave programs must complete an application/agreement form as contained in Appendix K. Completed applications must be received at the DDESS Director's Office not later than January 15th of each year for academic programs commencing the following fall." This also includes teachers in Guam. Any interested teachers should review Article 21, section 10, of the certified Master Labor Agreement which addresses Educator Leave.

The National Defense Authorization Act: Credit for Unused Sick-Leave for FERS Employees - beginning in 2010, FERS employees will receive 50% credit for their sick-leave. Beginning in 2014, FERS employees will receive 100% credit for their unused sick-leave. Part of this bill also addressed Part-time Reemployment of Annuitants which allows the head of an agency to hire back annuitants without penalty to their annuity and without applying for a waiver from OPM. Annuitants may only be hired for mission critical, or other highly specified, positions for a total of 1040 hours of service during one year or 3120 total hours of service. The amount of annuitants reemployed cannot exceed 2.5% of the total number of full time employees.

Conversion from COLA to Locality Pay for federal employees in Hawaii and Alaska will also affect our members in Guam beginning next year. Federal employees in these areas, including Senior Executives, will begin to receive locality pay. There is a 2 year phase-in with full locality pay beginning in 2012. We are still pursuing more information for our members about this.

Mediations: As a result of a two day meeting in Peachtree City at the end of October we were able to reach resolution on some outstanding grievances. Once the MOU is finalized and signed we will provide that information to our members.

Automation of Spread Pay [for certified staff]: In August we met at DODEA HQ to receive a briefing on the proposed Automation of Spread Pay for DDESS. DODDS already uses this system and the Agency would like to make this as uniform as possible to avoid confusion. Current issues with spread pay in DDESS include a complicated formula, the requirement for manual calculations (particularly with tracking excess LWOP), a constant need to reconcile, and the manual tracking of personal leave usage. It is the intent that with the automation of spread pay these issues will no longer be a problem. The benefits outlined include consistency (in a time when the BRAC will be moving the pay offices to Columbus) as well as accurate leave tracking (of personal leave), valid salaries for retirement and other benefit programs, and automatic reconciliations. The automated spread pay would also result in the avoidance of large debts or underpayments, and would minimize debt for those moving between DODDS and DDESS which has become a very real problem for some of our educators. There would be an automatic adjustment for excess LWOP, and would also allow for temporary employees hired after November 1 to have spread pay (which they do not currently have). The DFAS Leave Bank would also be automated. As we move forward in these discussions we will keep you updated.

Teachers of the Year: A big congratulation to our members who have been selected as DODEA Teachers of the Year for their districts: Brenda Schultz-von-Hawker (Kentucky District), Juana Aguon (Guam), and Lynn Magalong Lowe (New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico). Additionally Lynn has also been selected as the VFW POST 1503 Teacher of the Year in what is the largest VFW Post in Virginia and the 2nd largest in the world. We are so proud of our teachers!

Terry

Terry Arvidson
FEA Director for DDESS