Happy Thanksgiving! In looking forward to the break and our favorite family recipes, it’s our holiday dinner plates that are meant to be full. Unfortunately, this applies to our work plates, too. It seems there’s constantly something else added on: new initiatives, testing, data collection, additional mandatory trainings and more. There’s already enough to do to get through the day, particularly during these stressful times. We would be extremely thankful to do just that without all the extra side-dishes!
As winter approaches and the number of cases is rising both on and off base, please continue to take care of yourselves and to let your FRS know of any lack of cleaning supplies and/or cleaning protocols not being followed. We need to remain vigilant to protect our students and ourselves. FEA’s stance is that we should move to remote as a precaution to reduce risk.
We have been in constant contact with FEA HQ since management began rolling out Microsoft 365 Teams. FEA has informed us the Association was not notified of this change. As such, there was and is much consternation, and rightly so, about having to use a personal device/phone number for the two-step verification process. HQ shared with President Chance that using a personal device is not required. A workaround, offered by the Agency, is the use of a key or token (USB flash drive), which we’re told one can request via the IT Help Desk. However, this information has not made it down the IT chain to our school ATs. Submitted ticket requests are being closed due to lack of information. We are continuing to follow up on this issue. If you are told you need to use a personal device, you may decline and there is no penalty for doing so. For more information, check this document from DoDEA’s IT department, click here.
It does seem students finish one assessment and there’s another right behind it. This has been brought to Pacific and HQ leadership by the Association and parents as well. The Agency response is that this testing should not be burdensome nor should not require subs (as with the recent ORR testing). We are not alone here with testing-fatigue issues as “Toxic Testing” is an NEA concern, too. We are hopeful that a change in thinking from the highest level down will take some of this over-testing off our and our students’ plates.
At our recent JCC, in response to the FEA survey sent to FRSs on the sub shortage, the Area office provided a list of substitute totals across the Pacific. In at least one of our districts, these numbers were not actual. We will continue to keep tabs on this shortage and the impact it’s having on our teachers, students and programs.
We are still hearing of members who have yet to be paid the extra-day’s pay at the beginning of the year. If you have not been paid, please file a pay inquiry. If after two weeks, you have not received a reply, elevate to your FRS who will send this issue up the FEA chain for follow-up and assistance. If you’re not signed up for snail-mail hard copies of your LESs (you can change that in MyPay mypay.dfas.mil), it is important for you to download copies of all LESs and save them in a folder as LESs are not readily available a year out beyond issue. It is extremely important to save copies of your LESs. Please take advantage of the salary organizers from FEA available at this page to help track pay and any discrepancies.
It is extremely important to have union leadership representation at meetings (executive committee/team-leader, CSI, COVID-19, SAC, etc.). All too often, an idea is suggested that does not take into consideration how it affects educators. We need a strong union voice at these meetings.
More information on the SAC here.
The Federal Benefits Open Season runs through December 14. Please visit OPM’s Health Insurance Open Season page available here for links and information. Another helpful source is the OPM tool to compare plans available here. Changes are made through the GRB Platform on the Army Benefits Center‐ Civilian (ABC‐C) website at army.mil. The American Foreign Service Protective Association (AFSPA) hosts virtual meetings providing information on the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program and 2021 Open Season initiatives. You can view the AFSPA meeting schedule here.
Safe travels and welcome back to our Authorized Departure members who are in the process of returning “home.”
As we were advised in a 26 October letter from Lois Rapp, if you are planning any travel over the break, “…it’s absolutely critical that you review and follow your installation’s travel guidance. Each installation provides current host nation and military travel restrictions and up-to-date information regarding locations with high rates of COVID-19 infections. Please be aware of these high-risk areas and avoid traveling to these locations, especially if a Restriction of Movement (ROM) will be required upon your return home. Should you decide to travel to a location that has a ROM requirement in place, know that you are expected to return to school at the end of the winter recess period, having already completed the ROM. Please also ensure all travel plans are submitted and approved through your chain of command before your departure. It is also important to note that leisure travel requirements may differ from travel requirements for official work-related purposes.”
If you are not receiving FEA updates or need to change your personal email, please go to this page to update your information.
In my search for a timely quote to end with, I came across the below. While we sometimes wonder what the union does for us, can you imagine where we’d be without it? While not all of these apply to us as Federal workers, most do. Thanks, Unions! Thanks, FEA! Thanks, Members!
2. All Breaks at Work (Lunch)
3. Paid Vacations
5. Sick Leave
6. Social Security
7. Minimum Wage
8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Discrimination)
9. 8-Hour Work Day
10. Overtime Pay
11. Child Labor Laws
12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
13. 40-Hour Work Week
14. Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)
15. Unemployment Insurance
17. Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
18. Employer Health Care Insurance
19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
20. Wrongful Termination Laws
21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
22. Whistleblower Protection Laws
23. Employee Polygraph Protection Act
24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
25. Compensation Increases and Evaluations (Raises)
26. Sexual Harassment Laws
27. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
28. Holiday Pay
29. Employer Dental, Life and Vision Insurance
30. Privacy Rights
31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave
32. Military Leave
33. The Right to Strike
34. Public Education for Children
35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011
36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States
Until the next update,
FEA Pacific Area Director