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Overseas Bargaining Update #2

posted July 9, 2019

Management Attempts to Eliminate Grievance Rights

DoDEA seeks to eliminate the right for the Association and individual employees to file grievances over issues such as discrimination and improper pay, even if the new Overseas contract presently being bargained contains language prohibiting such practices.

In effect, this means DoDEA wants to make sections of any new Overseas contract unenforceable. This is clearly a violation of the law and, if imposed as part of a new Overseas contract, FEA would take all available legal actions to challenge this violation of law.

Proposals from both management and FEA for Article 18 of the new Overseas contract prohibit discrimination in employment. FEA's proposal seeks to prohibit discrimination against "race, color, creed, national origin, sex, handicapping condition, equal pay/compensation, harassment, pregnancy, marital status, age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sexual harassment, retaliation, genetic information, gender identification or expression, or political affiliation".

But elsewhere in its proposals, DoDEA seeks to eliminate the option to file grievances based upon discrimination. Instead, management seeks to mandate the use of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints to resolve allegations of discrimination.

There are multiple problems with this.

For starters, the EEO process takes much longer than grievance procedures typically take.

More ominously, the EEO commission is appointed solely by the White House, which means it invites further bias against employees such as we are already seeing from bodies such as the White House-appointed Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) and Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

In sum: DoDEA wants to make it more difficult and more time consuming for Overseas employees to resolve allegations of discrimination by management. Coupled with the very limited definition of the types of discrimination DoDEA would recognize, management's proposals would invite widespread harassment and discrimination, particularly in areas such as sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, equal pay/compensation and political affiliation.

DoDEA's Overseas contract proposal seeks also to eliminate the right to file grievances over pay issues, which are covered by Article 25 in either side's proposals. For example, DoDEA would require Overseas employees alleging improper debt collections to take action under the Debt Collection Act rather than through the grievance procedure.

Again, management's goal apparently is to make it even more time consuming and more difficult to fix such pay issues.

DoDEA goes on to propose prohibiting the use of the grievance procedure against things like adverse actions and what it calls "anticipatory grievances (e.g. ‘Goodbye grievances')."

Having a meaningful grievance procedure is an absolute necessity in order to make any contract enforceable. The grievance procedure is designed to achieve rulings from unbiased sources much faster and at far less expense than going through the courts.

By proposing such restrictions on the grievance procedure, DoDEA makes clear it neither wants to live by the terms of its own harmful proposals nor wants to make it easy for employees and the Association to seek redress for any negative actions it commits under the contract it seeks to force on Overseas employees.

The fact is: FEA has had great success through the grievance procedure over the years in its fight to make DoDEA management live by the current Overseas contract as well as other applicable laws. DoDEA knows it cannot win within such a fair and unbiased system, so it is unlawfully seeking to eliminate that system.

Employees do have a legal right to a fair and equitable grievance procedure. Should management's proposals become part of a new Overseas contract, FEA will take all possible legal action to restore that right.

You can read both DoDEA's and FEA's Overseas contract proposals in full by going to our Overseas Contract Information page. At that page you can also find other updates from FEA about the Overseas contract bargaining process.

All members (as well as anyone else concerned about management's ongoing degradation of working and learning conditions in DoDEA schools) are urged to write Congress by going to this page at NEA's EducationVotes site. BE SURE TO ONLY DO SO WHILE YOU ARE OFF DUTY, OFF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND NOT USING A GOVERNMENT COMPUTER OR OTHER EQUIPMENT.