posted May 1, 2019

In accordance with the ground rules imposed earlier this year by the Federal Service Impasses Panel, FEA and DoDEA exchanged their bargaining proposals recently as the opening step in the negotiation of a new contract for the Overseas bargaining unit.

FEA has posted its complete proposal at this page. The document includes many suggestions/requests submitted by FEA members in recent years. Among the proposals we put forth are:

  • Guaranteed planning time for employees
  • 186 day school year
  • Preserve the current length of the duty day and the duty day should not exceed 7 hours
  • An annual Transfer Program with no budget caps, so all eligible applicants can move
  • 2.5 days of uninterrupted classroom preparation time during start of year orientation period
  • Waiver of Student Loan Repayment
  • Pay at hourly rate for all work done outside the duty day
  • Reimbursement of cost of recertification courses
  • Status quo on tour of duty
  • Benefits for Local hires
  • Regular Retirement Briefings
  • Extra Duty to be paid based on hourly rates

In its proposals, DoDEA made clear the low regard it has for its education employees. Among the many harmful contract provisions DoDEA seeks are:

  • extension of the duty day without additional compensation
  • require educators to perform additional work outside the duty day without any compensation
  • lengthening of tours of duty
  • employees cannot challenge a removal or suspension action through the grievance arbitration procedures
  • weakening of protections against and remedies for debt collections; debt collections cannot be challenged through the grievance/arbitration procedures
  • prohibit goodbye grievances
  • a virtual elimination of official time for elected officers at all levels of the Association to perform duties representing employees and resolving workplace issues
  • No guarantee of prep time for educators
  • No mention of a transfer program — indicating DoDEA no longer intends to hold such a program
  • Additional limitations/restrictions on LQA
  • Requirement to use the local military housing offices to rent/buy housing
  • Extra duty pay determined at management’s discretion

DoDEA even goes so far as to propose pre-determined ground rules (heavily favoring management, of course) for the next time the Overseas contract would have to be renegotiated — which wouldn’t be for at least 5 years if management gets its way.

There are many more harmful changes including in management’s proposals, which can be read in their entirely here.

The cumulative effect of management’s contract proposals, if enacted, would be a school system in which employees are treated as the enemy, to be dealt with as severely and with as little recourse as possible.

FEA will fight tooth-and-nail for the best possible contract for our members. We expect, however, that the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) will once again side with DoDEA and impose as many negative contract articles as feasible. The FSIP, whose members are appointed by and answerable only to the White House, has made its bias in favor of management clear on multiple occasions already: giving DoDEA virtually everything it asked for in a successor agreement for Stateside schools and adopting management’s proposed ground rules for the Overseas bargaining nearly verbatim.

Under those ground rules, FEA and DoDEA are to have 60 days to review each other’s proposals before beginning face-to-face bargaining for 6 weeks. FEA recently filed an Association Grievance against DoDEA because the agency is attempting to force FEA to bargain over the summer break, despite the existing negotiated agreement — which remains in full force and effect until a new Overseas contract is legally implemented — making clear that such bargaining cannot be held during summer.

In seeking to force bargaining (without compensation to FEA team members) over the summer, DoDEA’s actions are consistent with the agency’s attitude towards its employees in recent years: it does all it can to omit educators from having input into their work environment and refuses to comply with existing laws, thus requiring the Association to take legal action to enforce even the most basic rights and protections.

Once actual bargaining begins, the two sides will work toward an agreement mutually agreeable to both sides — at least, that will be FEA’s philosophy. If such agreement is not reached, mediation will take place. After that, either side may then appeal to the FSIP to take jurisdiction over the impasse and impose a final contract.

If the parties sign off on an agreement, per the ground rules, the contract must be voted on by FEA Overseas members. If those members fail to ratify the contract, both sides will be required to return to bargaining.

FEA is preparing to name its bargaining team in the weeks ahead and will be updating our members regularly on developments with the negotiations.