FEA SR Responds to DoDEA Director About Contract IssueBackground: On March 23, 2018, FEA's Stateside Region sent an Open Letter to DoDEA Director Tom Brady following a threat by DoDEA negotiators to illegally implement a bogus contract on certified employees in DoDEA Americas schools. You can read that open letter here, and FEA-SR's update to members about the situation here.
On March 30, FEA Director for DDESS Jane Loggins received a reply from Mr. Brady. You can read his full reply here.
In response, the FEA Director for DDESS sent the reply below to Mr. Brady on April 4, 2018.
Thank you for your response to my open letter of March 23. I am disappointed, however, that you failed to address the clearly illegal threat by DoDEA's chief negotiator to implement a bogus contract on our certified bargaining unit members.
After reading your message, I am left wondering whether your LMER staff is doing a thorough and accurate job of reporting to you on its negotiation efforts (or lack thereof) with FEA-SR. There are a number of statements contained in the version of the negotiations process you presented that contain inaccurate or, at best, incomplete explanations of how the process has played out. Several that I feel are particularly important to point out are as follows:
* Your response states that the FMCS released the two sides from mediation on March 6, 2018, (which is accurate). You failed, however, to point out the reason the mediator released us from the process was that your DoDEA negotiations team had already indicated at that point that they would no longer engage in the mediation process. This does not represent an "impasse"; it represents a failure of one side (DoDEA) to engage in the bargaining process. FEA-SR was (and remains) committed to using the mediation process to resolve issues wherever necessary.
* Your response states that FEA-SR had not chosen to exercise its right to file appeals of several contract issues DoDEA had claimed were not negotiable, thereby making it more difficult to resolve those issues. However, FEA-SR did file negotiability appeals over a number of issues prior to our sending you the open letter. Your LMER staff was informed of our filing those appeals, but perhaps they failed to share that information with you?
* You imply in your response that FEA-SR has been dragging out the negotiations process. In reality, DoDEA's negotiators have been responsible for most of the delays in the process, as they have frequently arrived to negotiation sessions unprepared to bargain on the issues at hand. FEA-SR has always arrived to such sessions fully informed and prepared to bargain on whatever issues were before us. In addition, FEA-SR's negotiators have shown tremendous flexibility in our willingness to meet with DoDEA's team.
* You state that the "last-best-and-final-offer" (LBFO) issued by your agency was made because the two sides are at impasse. However, DoDEA's LBFO included changes to at least one major article, affecting salary computations, that had never before been presented to FEA-SR's negotiations team. How can we be at impasse over a contract that includes provisions we've never had a chance to see, let alone bargain?
* Your response claims that the most recent mediation period lasted eight months and resulted in both sides remaining at impasse on the same articles. In reality, a majority of the time during the mediation was spent negotiating an overhaul to the Extracurricular Duty Pay Schedule -- an overhaul that was requested by DoDEA, not FEA-SR. During the mediation process, FEA-SR and DoDEA came to agreement on a new schedule. In fact, FEA-SR agreed to the proposal on this issue that was submitted by management's negotiators. But when the time came to actually sign off on their own proposal, it was your Agency's negotiators, not FEA-SR, who refused to sign it. It's as if management wants to demonstrate a lack of progress in order to justify scrapping the whole process and going ahead with its own version of the contract.
I could go on, but the point is that your response leaves me, again, to wonder whether you are receiving full and accurate information from your team. If you were hearing the full and accurate story from them, I frankly don't understand how you could continue to stand by management's threat to illegally implement a contract of its own design.
FEA-SR continues to believe strongly in the negotiations process and we again affirm our willingness and commitment to meet with management representatives in order to continue that process. Let us not fall into the hurtful atmosphere being created at Betsy DeVos's Department of Education by having management attempt to force through a contract it knows its employees would not support. Instead, I invite you to meet with the members of our Stateside Area Council and/or the members of our MLA negotiations team to hear, first hand, how damaging this present course of action by DoDEA headquarters would be to the state of relations between management and employees. Our Area Council will be meeting April 20 and 21 in Arlington, just down the road from your office at the Mark Center, and would be happy to accommodate you at any time you could visit with us.
Thank you again for your detailed response to my message of March 23 and I look forward to continuing to work with you toward completion of a valid and properly-negotiated contract for our bargaining unit members.
FEA Director for DDESS