TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President’s Report
DATE: June 9, 2020
We are now approaching the end of the school year for most locations in DoDEA. Schools in the Southeast District of DoDEA Americas closed in May. FEA Director for DDESS Jane Loggins tells us those closings went relatively smoothly, considering all the challenges under the current situation. We are hoping the process of closing the rest of DoDEA’s schools for the year goes equally well.
As for reopening the schools next year: At this point there are far more questions than answers about if and when the schools will physically reopen to students and most staff. The Association has gathered a lot of feedback from members on the issue of reopening and has presented that info to DoDEA headquarters. We want to make sure DoDEA is aware of the health and safety issues that must be considered in planning the eventual reopening of schools and cannot claim to be unaware of the many questions that will need answers before that reopening happens.
The Association’s highest priority is the health and safety of students, staff and parents.
FEA has filed an Association Grievance on the RAT issue. The grievance concerns management’s refusal to allow educators eligible for RAT to use their RAT travel orders and also management’s refusal to reimburse for self-procured travel. As relief, we are seeking that educators be made whole and that they be provided back pay, with interest.
We have been working these RAT/travel issues the past few months and thank our members for your patience as we continue to work on them.
The Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) has informed us it will be asserting jurisdiction over the negotiation of a new contract for the Overseas bargaining unit.
The move by the FSIP was expected, as it has clearly been management’s intent throughout the negotiation process to have the politically appointed FSIP step in and impose contract terms on the Overseas unit.
FEA will submit arguments and information to FSIP in support of its proposals for which the parties have not reached agreement, then each side will have the opportunity to submit a written brief in response to the other party’s final submitted proposals. The FSIP will then issue a ruling on each of those proposals. The history of the FSIP in the past three years has been to overwhelmingly favor management in all such rulings.
Regardless what the FSIP decision looks like, FEA has informed DoDEA management we will exercise our right to have Overseas bargaining unit members vote on whether to ratify the tentative agreement. A very brief 15-day window for the ratification vote was imposed by FSIP as part of the ground rules it dictated for the negotiation process. This means all notices of that ratification vote and the vote itself will have to be conducted via e-mail.
Any FEA member in the Overseas bargaining unit who did not receive this update directly from FEA in their personal e-mail (as opposed to having it forwarded to you by an FRS or other Association member) is urged to send their personal (non DoDEA) e-mail to FEA’s Washington DC office immediately so we can be sure we have the correct address at which to send you notices of the ratification vote. Send your e-mail address to email@example.com and be sure to include your full name and the school where you are assigned, so we can look up your membership record. Thank you!
FEA will hold its annual meeting from 7 to 9 am ET on Monday, June 29, and Tuesday, June 30. The meeting will, for the first time, be online. Meeting information and reports will be posted to a private group on the NEA360 EdCommunities site, accessible to FEA members who join the group prior to the start of the meeting. FEA will host online sessions that members can sign up to attend using the link below. During those sessions, members will be able to hear reports on Association activities and business, updates on issues affecting members, and presentations from FEA and NEA officers and staff.
To help with planning for the event, please register to attend by completing the form at this link.
The DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 2020.
The information from those who complete the form will be used to confirm their membership in FEA. Members who registered by the deadline will be sent additional information about accessing the online meeting and the meeting resources available through NEA 360 EdCommunities.
Holding this meeting in an online format will be a new experience for FEA. We thank our members in advance for their patience and understanding regarding any technical issues that may arise during the planning and execution of this year’s FEA Annual Membership Meeting.
FEA is asking the FLRA to reconsider its ruling overturning the decision of the independent arbitrator in this grievance.
A little over a year ago, an independent arbitrator ruled that DoDEA acted illegally and committed an Unfair Labor Practice when it violated an agreement it has with FEA. That agreement designates EPAS as the proper evaluation tool for the Overseas unit. The arbitrator’s decision stated DoDEA violated the terms of that agreement when it unilaterally implemented DPMAP on Overseas employees. The arbitrator ordered DoDEA to reinstate EPAS. DoDEA appealed that arbitrator’s ruling to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which granted management’s request to vacate, or set aside, the ruling.
As a next step in the process, FEA has asked the FLRA to reconsider its ruling. Should the FLRA refuse the request, the Association will weigh further options.
Earlier this school year, due to an error by DoDEA, many Overseas members had an erroneous 11th deduction of Association dues taken from their pay. The proper deduction schedule the Association provided to management called for only 10 deductions, as has been the practice for many years.
FEA has been told multiple times by DoDEA that refunds to affected members were imminent, but each promised delivery date has passed without the funds being returned by DFAS to members. It now appears the funds may not be repaid on June 12 either, despite earlier indications from management the repayment would take place on that date.
Despite urgings from DoDEA to have it refund the erroneous deductions to the affected employees, DFAS has been refusing to do so, claiming it does not have the manpower to process the payments.
The situation is the fault of the government, yet it refuses to make the affected employees whole.
FEA has been informed by DoDEA HQ that the General Pay Adjustment SF50 for August 1, 2019, which reflects the retroactive pay adjustment for Overseas bargaining unit members, is now available in MyBiz. MyBiz is available here. A CAC is needed for access.
In Washington, DC, recently, as throughout the nation and increasingly throughout the world, we have seen remarkable demonstrations and calls for change as a result of the death of George Floyd. FEA and NEA have a long history of standing up for racial equality and fair treatment and that commitment is stronger now than ever. These recent events are a stark reminder of all the work that remains to be done in our country to ensure that “liberty and justice for all” is truly realized.
This is the last scheduled FEA President’s Report of SY 19-20. It has been an incredibly difficult and challenging school year, to say the least. What all of you –as DoDEA employees — have done this year to maintain student learning in the face of a worldwide pandemic is simply amazing! DoDEA’s efforts to impose negative contract terms on its employees, both Overseas and Stateside, would be disheartening under any circumstances. But in the present environment and following the amazing work all of you have done the past few months, DoDEA’s actions can be viewed as nothing less than a slap in the face. The Association will continue its work to undo the damage being done.
As schools shut down, I hope you all take tremendous pride and satisfaction in the work you do every day, but especially in all you’ve done the past few months. Management may only be able to offer you lip service but please be assured that students and parents — and especially those of us who have the honor of working for you in FEA — are very grateful for all you do.
I wish you all a restful and safe summer!