FSIP FAVORS MANAGEMENT IN STATESIDE CONTRACT RULINGIn a decision that was not unexpected but is nevertheless disappointing, the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) has ruled in favor of management on most of the unresolved issues in the Master Labor Agreement affecting FEA-Stateside bargaining unit members.
FEA-Stateside Region (FEA-SR) was informed of FSIP's ruling this week. You'll recall FSIP, at DoDEA management's request, asserted jurisdiction earlier this year over the unresolved issues in the Master Labor Agreement (MLA). Several issues -- including those covering pay raises and the addition of up to 24 one-hour extensions of the duty day per academic quarter -- were resolved when FEA-SR and DoDEA met with an FSIP panel member in October. The issues that remained unresolved after that session were then submitted to the full FSIP panel for them to rule on, as called for under federal sector labor law.
In its ruling over the unresolved issues, the members of the FSIP, all of whom have been appointed within the past two years by Donald Trump, remained consistent with other rulings they have issued in labor disputes: The panel overwhelmingly decided in favor of management's position on nearly every issue.
UNPAID MAKE UP DAYS
In its most damaging ruling, FSIP upheld management's position that any days schools are closed due to weather or other emergencies can be rescheduled during any recess period (such as spring or summer breaks) without having to provide additional compensation to employees for these make-up dates.
In doing, so, FEA-SR believes FSIP has overstepped its authority to resolve issues that were at impasse. The parties had already agreed to a provision to compensate educators for any additionally assigned make-up days in a separate article. FSIP's order attempts to rewrite portions of the MLA the parties had already agreed to. Such action is outside the scope of FSIP's authority.
FEA-SR is reviewing the FSIP decision and considering next steps to challenge the order.
Other parts of the FSIP ruling cover:
TIMING OF PAY LANE ADJUSTMENTS -- siding with management, FSIP ruled that the timing of when academic credits are earned affects whether those credits should be counted towards salary lane adjustments on the Stateside pay schedule.
CREDITS IN YOUR FIELD -- FSIP ruled that only credits an educator earns in their field of certification or in general education should be counted on the salary schedule. FEA-SR argued for a broader definition of what should be recognized in order to encourage employees to seek credits and certifications outside their current teaching field.
PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCES -- FSIP upheld management's position that educators may be required to stay past the end of the duty day to complete a parent conference that began during the duty day, if the conference was mutually scheduled by the parent and educator. FEA-SR argued that such a requirement could present concerns about safety and security.
PREP TIME FOR REASSIGNMENTS -- In a partial win for the Association, FSIP ruled that employees reassigned to teach new subjects and/or in new classrooms should "normally" be given release time of 1.5 days (3 days for those reassigned to multiple new subjects/rooms). Also, employees who are relocated to entire new school buildings should "normally" receive 1.5 days to pack up and 2 days to unpack materials. Management sought to only provide "up to" those amounts of time at its own discretion. FEA-SR argued for protecting the full amount of time for affected employees.
NEW SUBJECT AREA - FSIP ruled in favor of FEA-SR in defining what constitutes a subject area reassignment. Educators are entitled to release time for professional preparation when assigned to a new grade level or subject area. The agency proposed that subject areas be defined as broad Academic Disciplines (English Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, etc.) However, FSIP agreed with FEA-SR that release time should be provided anytime there is a change in curriculum.
By ruling on the above-described impasse issues, FSIP ordered the two sides to sign a new contract consistent with its decision. As mentioned above, however, FEA-SR believes the FSIP overstepped its jurisdiction in its ruling over the make-up days. The Association hopes to resolve the issue with management and finalize a signed agreement without the need for litigation.
DoDEA is required to submit the final contract to the Pentagon for a process known as "agency head review," in which the Pentagon will decide whether it believes any provisions of the contract conflict with existing law. The Pentagon has 30 days from the date of the FSIP ruling to complete that process.
We will update members as the situation plays out.
Details of the October mediation session between FEA-SR and DoDEA have been reported to members online (see story here) and in the December FEA Journal (see page 11 of the December 2018 Journal)
The FSIP's ruling, as mentioned above, is consistent with the overwhelmingly pro-management decisions it has issued recently. FEA is currently awaiting a decision from the FSIP about the ground rules that will govern bargaining of a new contract for Overseas bargaining unit members. Management has repeatedly backed out of agreements with the Association over these rules in the past, thus dragging the process on for several years. Despite these tactics from DoDEA, and in light of this new ruling on the Stateside MLA, FEA is less than optimistic about receiving a fair and unbiased ruling from the FSIP over ground rules that will govern bargaining of the Overseas contract.