In addition to contract bargaining and a range of great membership benefits, FEA and NEA are always looking to assist members in any way we can. Here are just a few examples of how we have recently helped resolve a variety of problems for members.
FEA Protects High-Performing Educator from Erroneous Discipline
FEA frequently steps in to defend educators against egregious or unwarranted actions. The FEA team recently assisted a high-performing educator targeted for removal due to a recertification issue:
“Due to an educator shortage, I was doing the work of two teachers for over a year and a half. My school administration gave me performance awards for persevering during this time. However, due to this overwork, there was an issue I had with my recertification. Management’s only solution was removal. No justification was acceptable even though they were fully aware of the reasons.
“Thankfully the union stepped in. FEA argued against removal and helped me write appeals. When this failed, the legal team then took my case to arbitration. Eventually, my case was heard and within a week the arbitrator ruled in my favor. Management was found to have mishandled my case and even violated their own policies. The union assistance did not stop there as FEA got the administration to drop their appeal and offer me my job back.
“I had been a loyal employee going way beyond requirements to make things happen for students and the school, only to be tossed out. The union’s response was immediate and felt like a buoy thrown to a drowning person.”
NEA Helps Get Members Public Student Loan Forgiveness Through Dedicated Advocacy
Due in large part to advocacy efforts by NEA, in October 2021, the Department of Education reformed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, allowing many borrowers to receive credit for past payments made on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. After the changes were implemented, one member shared with FEA the good news that over $60,000 in student loans were forgiven:
“I instantly received loan forgiveness. I received a message that all my past payments were now accepted and my debt was erased. I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders. It is rather surreal. For a large part of my life I lived with that albatross, and now it’s over. I want to thank FEA and NEA for their help and lobbying for this reform”.
A member from Okinawa, Japan also received their promised forgiveness:
“After being made aware of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Limited Waiver, I submitted my documents and verified my service. I then learned in July that my loans had been discharged. After almost 20 years of student loan payments, I received PSFL for my remaining balance of $17,000. With this gift of loan forgiveness, I can consider retirement at an earlier age!”
FEA Helps Resolve Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) Errors
FEA’s legal team has the knowledge and experience needed to advise you and to make sure you are protected to the fullest extent of the law. On one recent occasion, we assisted a DoDEA teacher and FEA member from the Pacific with her pay issues. When she noticed her daily rate and allotment were zeroed out for one of her two direct deposit accounts, she raised the issue with DoDEA but received an incoherent explanation and no resolution. She then “reached out to FEA to assist with a pay audit from 2019 to the present. [FEA] requested all my LESs and were able to provide a VERY thorough explanation of the issue…After the inquiry, my allotment was corrected from zero back to the original amount I set aside to come out my pay into my other bank account.”
FEA Assists Member with Pay Step Fix
“I recently retired from DoDEA. During my years and as an educator and FEA member, I received very good assistance from my Kaiserslautern Middle School Faculty Representative on a variety of issues I faced. Before retiring I had to resolve a lingering issue I submitted to Global Inquiry with regards to my Pay Step being incorrect for several years. As soon as I contacted FEA with this issue, they took immediate action and helped get it resolved it in just a few days. It was a claim that could have taken some years, if ever, to resolve if I was dealing with DoDEA on my own. I am amazed by the support and commitment FEA provides to its members. The work done by FEA is highly appreciated.”
FEA Assists Member Expediting Fixes to Travel Issue
FEA often hears from its members that they have issues with receiving their Renewal Agreement Travel tickets or vouchers from DoDEA. The association is often able to assist with expediting fixes to these problems, such as when two members received assistance getting home during their break:
“It was a week before we were to fly back home for RAT, but we had not received our itinerary or tickets. It was important for us to get back because my son had college orientation coming up. I contacted FEA and I received our tickets 3 days later. I am grateful because I called all the numbers and emailed SATO as well with no response. FEA assistance really made a difference and we made it to orientation on time!”
NEA’s Read Across America Grants Inspire Student Reading
NEA State Affiliates may apply for a “Read Across America Grant” to enhance Read Across America (RAA) activities coordinated by the State Affiliate. The theme of the 2021-2022 grants was “Celebrating a Nation of Diverse Readers”, with diverse books, promoting a love of reading, and focusing attention on the literacy needs and successes of children of all ages. An FEA member at a school that applied and received a RAA grant in 2022 commented on the activities this funding enabled them to provide for their students:
“Books open so many worlds to students. However, it’s the long-time favorites that tend to be picked up again and again. To empower our students to be diverse readers, we decided to highlight books with different characters than they are used to seeing, but with familiar situations. With Sally Pla’s “Benji, the Bad Day, and Me”, we intentionally highlighted how to overcome the ‘bad days’ that come, but to do so while including those different than us, instead of excluding them. With Rosie Pova’s books, our military-impacted students are reminded how making new friends is important while normalizing girl-fighting dragons and skin tones other than white. After hearing from these authors, we invited our students to “write their story,” providing each several “blank canvases” to spark creativity. Each student celebrated their diversity and uniqueness by telling their story and reading the stories of others.”
FEA Assists Member with Travel Voucher Reimbursement Issue
“After returning from my Renewal Agreement Travel, I submitted my travel voucher for reimbursement. Instead, due to an obscure rule I was not informed of, I was told they would not reimburse my travel and I now owed the government over $5,000. Thankfully, I saved and documented all travel-related communications and, with the help of the FEA team, was able to get this resolved.”
FEA is here for our members. If you have an issue with management, reach out to your local Faculty Representative Spokesperson or Building Representative, who can escalate it up the chain so we can work toward resolving it.
If you are an FEA member who would like to share a story of how FEA assisted you with an issue, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEA fights for the salary, benefits, and respect you deserve. Become a member today.