posted February 22, 2019

In a move that was disappointing but not at all surprising given its clear bias in favor of management, the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) this week imposed ground rules for the bargaining of a new contract for Overseas employees that align almost exactly with those requested by DoDEA.

The Trump-appointed FSIP ruled with FEA in only one of 12 disputed articles of the ground rules. That article dealt with the location where bargaining sessions will be held. The FSIP also agreed with FEA’s request that the bargaining day last until 5pm each day, instead of the 4pm halt that management wanted.

The FSIP sided with management on every other disputed point in the ground rules, which will govern the conditions under which bargaining for a new Overseas contract will take place. FEA and DoDEA have been working to resolve the ground rules for five years. At times, management had waited as long as an entire year to respond to a proposal FEA had sent them, thus dragging the process out unnecessarily long.

Now, however, with an FSIP appointed by the anti-labor White House, DoDEA is seeking to use the FSIP to order a harmful contract on Overseas workers, as it did earlier this year with FEA’s Stateside bargaining unit.

FEA and DoDEA will begin the process of actually bargaining the new Overseas contract soon. For several years FEA has been soliciting feedback from members about issues that are important to you, in order to inform our bargaining proposals. A number of members have expressed an interest in serving on the FEA bargaining team and the FEA Board will soon make a determination about who will make up our team.

It is not too late to send your suggested priorities for a new contract to FEA, nor is it too late for current Active members of the Association to volunteer for consideration as bargaining team members. You can do either or both by sending a message to fea@feaonline.org.

The FSIP directed bargaining to last between 10 and 18 weeks, depending upon the number of articles the sides propose for the agreement. If the two parties do not agree to the contract terms at that point it may then be mediated.

FEA will present the contract to its Overseas members for a ratification vote to decide whether to accept or reject the new contract.

The favoritism shown to management by the FSIP will make the negotiation process much more challenging for FEA than past contract negotiations. Despite these challenges and the fact current labor relations bodies such as the FSIP and Federal Labor Relations Authority are heavily stacked against employees and their unions right now, FEA will fight for the best possible contract for our members using all resources available to us. Our goal, as always, will be to create a positive working and learning environment for our members and the students they work with everyday.

We will continue to update members throughout the contract negotiation process.