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FEA-Stateside Arbitrating Illegal Contract Implementation

Employees urged to use Association-provided log sheets to keep track of extra duty time illegally assigned

posted March 21, 2019

FEA-Stateside Region is proceeding to arbitration over management's efforts to illegally and unilaterally impose a new contract on Stateside schools, including its dictate forcing Stateside employees to work extended hours without added compensation in violation of the current valid contract.

Stateside employees who are illegally directed to work added hours should use the FEA log sheets provided by your Local President/FRS to keep records of ALL additional time added to your duty day without compensation. FEA will be seeking full restitution for members who are being required to work additional uncompensated hours outside the scope of the existing 2005 Master Labor Agreement.

The extended workday violates the currently valid Stateside contract and also violates the spirit of a tentative agreement in the unsigned successor contract that would allow additional work hours each academic quarter.

Employees at Fort Benning have been told they must begin reporting to work 30 minutes earlier each day and also to stay 30 minutes later one day each week. Other locations are having up to an hour added after school several days per week or having smaller increments of time added both before and after the current duty day. All of these are violations of the currently valid MLA.

Despite the many hardships these situations create for employees -- such as finding suitable childcare or assistance with getting younger children to their bus stop -- DoDEA is mandating this illegal and improper change for the fourth quarter of the current school year.

The fact DoDEA is not even willing to delay this disruptive change until next school year -- let alone the illegal manner in which it is being imposed -- is sadly consistent with management's lack of concern for the negative impact its actions have on employees.

FEA-SR has reported previously to members about management threats to impose terms of a successor Master Labor Agreement that has not been signed by the Association because of a dispute over one Article the Federal Service Impasses Panel ruled on despite not having jurisdiction to do so. That disputed Article deals with additional duty days management wants to impose without compensation to make up for days cancelled by inclement weather or other emergencies.

As part of the successor MLA negotiations last year, a tentative agreement was reached that would allow principals some flexibility to assign up to 24 one-hour increments per academic quarter without added compensation. FEA tentatively agreed to the provision after the FSIP panel member overseeing negotiations told FEA-SR the full Panel was likely to grant DoDEA the full 190 additional uncompensated hours per work year the agency was seeking unless FEA-SR agreed to the proposal.

But, besides its attempt at illegal implementation, DoDEA is also violating the spirit and intent of that tentative agreement on the additional 24 hours. Those hours were to be used on an as-needed basis. The agreement was NOT to make changes to the regular schedule by adding hours to the start of the workday or attempting to add time to every workday.

That tentative agreement, along with all other parts of the successor MLA, remains in limbo because FEA-SR has not signed the new contract. Despite this, DoDEA is now attempting to force implementation of the successor MLA. Such forced implementation of an unsigned contract has only been attempted by one other agency: Betsy Devos' Department of Education.

FEA-SR did offer to sign the successor MLA, including the tentative agreement on an additional 24 hours of uncompensated duty time per academic quarter, if management would remove the disputed inclement weather Article for resolution at a later time. Management has not acted upon that offer so FEA-SR has not signed the successor agreement.

It remains FEA-SR's position that, unless it signs off on the successor MLA, the existing 2005 MLA remains the only valid contract for Stateside schools.

FEA-SR has invoked its right to arbitration over the illegal implementation of the successor contract. Unfortunately, the arbitration process will likely take several months to produce a ruling. Appeals and other legal maneuvers could delay a decision even longer. In the meantime, all members being assigned additional work hours are advised to comply with all directives and to keep a log of those additional, uncompensated hours. FEA will seek to have all employees paid for uncompensated work time imposed while the 2005 MLA remains the valid contract.

The situation management has created is unjustifiable and completely unnecessary. It demonstrates the low regard DoDEA has for the school-level employees who work with students everyday. FEA will fight this illegal and unilateral contract imposition and exhaust all legal avenues to see that our members are properly paid according to the existing contract.