April 29 2017 FEA Europe Update
TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Chuck McCarter, FEA President
RE: FEA President's Report
DATE: April 29, 2017
SHUTDOWN AVERTED, FOR NOW
On Friday, the House and Senate both approved a short-term spending agreement that will keep the government funded and avoid any potential shutdown through May 5.
RAT TRAVEL UNCERTAINTY CONTINUES
The stopgap spending measure approved by Congress today is good news in that it avoids (or at least delays) a shutdown of the federal government. However, it provides no help to DoDEA educators overseas who are still trying to arrange their RAT travel for this summer.
DoDEA had taken the position that it could not authorize RAT orders for travel after April 28 until and unless a continuing resolution or more permanent spending measure was passed by Congress to fund operations beyond that date. The stopgap measure moving the shutdown deadline to May 5 will, presumably, prompt DoDEA to say it now cannot authorize RAT orders for travel taking place after May 5 until similar long-term spending authorization is granted.
FEA disagrees with DoDEA's interpretation of the applicable laws and regulations and has asked management to reconsider its position on granting RAT reimbursements for summer travel. Our request was rejected.
In anticipation of DoDEA continuing to state that is cannot authorize RAT travel after May 5 until a long term spending authorization is passed by Congress, FEA continues to advise overseas members, including members in Guam, who have not yet purchased their airfare for summer RAT travel to continue to wait to do so until you actually receive your RAT orders from DoDEA. We know this is a major hardship for overseas educators but we believe that by waiting you will avoid potential complications/problems with your reimbursements.
Because some employees have already purchased their airline tickets for summer travel (because they could find more reasonable fares and save the government money by doing so before the issuance of RAT orders), FEA is filing an Association Grievance over this issue to seek RAT reimbursements for all educators if and when DoDEA denies them. FEA-Stateside Region is also filing an Association Grievance on behalf of educators in Guam.
DODDS SALARY INCREASES
FEA and DoDEA representatives met this week with the DOD Wage Setting Authority to review and finalize the annual salary survey that governs DODDS salary schedules. As a result, we can announce the following average rates of increase for DODDS salaries in School Year 2016-2017.
Classroom teachers -- 2.29%
Guidance counselors -- 1.95%
School psychologists -- 1.6%
Speech pathologists -- 2.87%
The full SY 16-17 salary schedules for DODDS will be posted on the FEA and DoDEA web sites within the next week. Please remember that the above figures represent OVERALL average increases for each position. Specific spots on each salary schedule (as determined by pay lane and step) may be higher or lower than this overall average.
DODDS RETROACTIVE SALARY ADJUSTMENT
As always, the DODDS salary schedules are based upon the salary schedules of U.S. school districts in urban areas with minimum populations of 100,000. Congressional law mandates this system. Because it takes most of a given school year for Wage Setting to collect, analyze and present this data, along with additional time for FEA and DoDEA to review and sign off on the use of the data, the salary figures for each school year are not determined until that year is nearly completed. However, thanks to a legal victory by FEA, DODDS educators do receive a retroactive pay adjustment once the current school year's salary schedules are set, to pay them the added amount they would have received had the new salary schedules been in place since the start of the school year last summer.
It is expected that DODDS employees will see this year's retro pay by the May 19 payroll. However, that is assuming that the government does not shutdown at the end of next week. If a shutdown does occur, the retro pay adjustment likely would be delayed until the government reopens.
NEA FOUNDATION AWARD NOMINEE
Congratulations to Michael Pope, an 8th grade science teacher at Zama Middle School in Japan. Michael has been selected as FEA's state nominee for the 2018 NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. Best of luck in the competition Michael!
TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK
National Teacher Appreciation Week will run from May 8-12 (we apologize for reporting incorrect dates in a previous President's Report). FEA salutes our members for their amazing work and invaluable contributions to the lives of students everyday. We are proud to represent you!
STILL AWAITING RAT REIMBURSEMENT FOR LAST YEAR?
Thanks to FEA's efforts, many DODDS members who were not properly reimbursed for RAT travel last summer have now received those reimbursements. If you have still not been reimbursed for your RAT from last summer, you should send your travel voucher to this email. Management has promised they will work to quickly process such reimbursement requests. Additionally, Management has informed us that they are working on improving the process and instructions for next year so that these delays will not occur.
LATE DEPARTURE/EARLY RETURN REIMBURSEMENTS
Employees who were required to put in a late departure/early return or other additional summer work during 2016 and have not yet been properly reimbursed for that time are urged to contact the DoDEA Human Resources Customer Service team at this email about the payment owed to you.
I just returned from visiting 6 school complexes in Germany. As always, it was great to have the opportunity to hear directly from our members. It has clearly been a difficult year for many of our members. The lack of subs and long term vacancies are still huge problems in many areas impacting students and educational programs, not just in Europe, but across our entire system. In addition, members are very concerned about the delay in releasing travel orders for this summer, the continuing issues with HR, and the poor quality of the professional development associated with CCRS. Speaking directly with members helps me to advocate for what our educators need. As the button I wear says, "You can't put students first, if you put teachers last!"
In May, FEA Executive Director/General Counsel HT Nguyen and I will travel to the Pacific for meetings in Korea, Okinawa, and Japan. NEA Director for FEA Anita Lang will join us in Japan. We are also very pleased to have John Stocks, NEA Executive Director, join us for school visits in Japan. Details of this trip are being finalized. For more information and details about our visits, please check with your local leadership.
DoDEA is once again asking educators to complete the Literacy Organizational Capacity Inventory. This survey is voluntary and anonymous. Please take the time to express your opinion on this survey.
In addition, OPM will be launching the 2017 FedView Survey. The survey will be open to educators for a six-week period. It is expected to launch the week of May 10. Survey questions consist of the standard questions contained in the general survey and focus on employee job satisfaction, work experiences, performance culture, leadership, as well as recruitment, development and retention. The survey is the in the same format as previously released in 2014 and the general 2016 FEVS.
A general email notifying employees of the survey will be distributed and employees will be randomly selected by OPM to participate. OPM will notify the employee and provide login information with a link to the survey.
In 2016 DoDEA ranked in the bottom quartile, with a rating of 256 out of 305 Agency Subcomponents. If you are randomly selected to participate in this survey, please do take the time to complete it. This is one of the few surveys that focus on job satisfaction and issues that impact your work conditions. Hopefully DoDEA's continuing poor performance on these indicators will spur actions by the agency to address these employee concerns.