TO: FEA Members Worldwide
FROM: Brian Chance, FEA President
RE: FEA President’s Report
DATE: September 22, 2020
Normally in the fall, I, along with FEA Executive Director/General Counsel Richard Tarr, would be traveling to attend the fantastic trainings put on for FRSs by our dedicated Area Directors and District Presidents/Division Representatives. Not only do these annual trainings prepare FRSs for the upcoming school year, they give us an opportunity to hear directly from these building reps and learn more about the issues concerning our members.
Of course, due to the present difficulties of travel and the fact that many locations have been under remote operation, holding these sessions in-person was not an option. But, thanks to the hard work of our Country and Division leaders, these trainings did take place online.
I’d like to thank the Country Presidents and Division Reps, as well as the Area Directors for Europe and the Pacific, for inviting Richard and I to attend these trainings and allowing us time to address our incredible FRSs. Being able to meet with our building reps was very valuable to Richard and I, and the work our Country Presidents/Division Reps did to set these training sessions up was amazing — especially given the travel restrictions and other challenges we are now under. A very big THANK YOU goes to those FRSs for all the work you have done already and will be doing throughout the school year to help members in your buildings. Your willingness to take on this responsibility is greatly appreciated!
I also want to praise our hard-working FEA UniServ attorneys for their outstanding work during these FRS trainings. The UniServs are directly responsible for providing the FRSs with the training and preparation they need to handle the many legal and contractual issues they’ll face when representing members this year. The UniServ attorneys who serve our members, both Overseas and Stateside, are incredibly talented and dedicated to the members they serve. We are truly lucky to have such wonderful people working to protect the interests and rights of our members.
Richard and I presented a great deal if information to the FRS and District/Division leaders at these training sessions. Please check with your FRS for news and info on major issues affecting the Association and its members, including the status of Overseas contract negotiations. A legal update from FEA Executive Director/General Counsel Richard Tarr, about the Overseas contract negotiations, was sent out September 17. You can find it at this page.
Last week, we learned of the first death of a DoDEA educator due to the COVID virus. The educator, a counselor at Fort Knox High School, died from the virus roughly two weeks after multiple people at Knox HS were exposed. Knox HS had to switch from in-person to remote operation. I’m sure all FEA members join in expressing their condolences to the family, friends, coworkers and students of this educator, whose senseless death could easily have been prevented had DoDEA opened all schools in a remote learning environment.
FEA recently filed an Association Grievance, alleging DoDEA violated health and safety protections in the Overseas Negotiated Agreement by reopening schools in many locations for in-person instruction, rather than implementing a fully remote opening.
The grievance filed for the Overseas bargaining unit alleges that management’s decision to open schools for in-person instruction unnecessarily and knowingly exposed educators to potential risk of contracting COVID, in violation of Section 4A of Article 15 of the Overseas Negotiated Agreement.
Another grievance was filed earlier this month over DoDEA’s illegal and unilateral implementation of the “Department of Defense Education Activity Prescreening Protocol and Acknowledgement for Adults” in the Overseas bargaining unit, similar to a grievance FEA-SR filed over that same form when it was distributed to employees in Stateside schools last month.
In the Overseas grievance, FEA alleges DoDEA acted illegally by not bargaining the implementation of this form before distributing it and requiring Overseas employees to sign the agreement. Some versions of the form misleadingly stated the form was required by DOD guidance, while another solicited employees to unnecessarily submit medical information to management. Among other remedies asked for in the grievance, FEA seeks to have management ordered to destroy all signed copies of the agreement which contain private medical information and expunge all information contained in the agreement from any files maintained by management.
Last week, Authorized Departures for individuals at higher risk of COVID was extended to October 9, 2020.
Members in the Overseas unit continue to report numerous pay problems, ranging from incorrect pay to missing deductions for insurance and other payments. FEA strongly advises members to check their LES every pay period and track your pay using the organizer tools available on the FEA web site. Be sure to read FEA’s update on these pay issues, available at this page on the FEA site. You can also access the pay organizers via that update.
A reminder that nominations are due October 1 for FEA members interested in running for the proposed Education Support Professional (ESP) Coordinator post. FEA members will vote this school year on whether to amend the FEA Constitution to create the ESP Coordinator position, as well as whether to add language to the FEA Constitution regarding Human and Civil Rights Coordinator positions at the Area level. If members approve the changes to the FEA Constitution, the ESP Coordinator post would be added as an at-large office to the FEA Board of Directors. Nominees for the ESP Coordinator post will be voted on by FEA members worldwide at the same time the members vote on the proposed changes to the Constitution, but those votes for the ESP Coordinator seat will only be counted IF the Constitutional amendment passes. Information on the proposed amendment and nomination forms for the ESP Coordinator position, along with other election details, were sent to FRSs/Building Reps last month. The information can also be found at the FEA Election Information Page. Remember, the deadline to submit nominations for the proposed ESP Coordinator post is October 1.