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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JANUARY 2012
45
AFSA NEWS
On Nov. 30, AFSA invited 25
former AFSA post repre-
sentatives to a round-table
luncheon to hear their candid
accounts of their labor union
experiences and take note of
their suggestions for improv-
ing services to our members
serving in 274 overseas mis-
sions.
AFSA President Susan
Johnson began the discus-
sion with the following stats
about the 146 current post
reps: 102 of them are tenured
and 44 are untenured. Men
occupy 67 percent of the
positions; women occupy the
remaining 33 percent. Their
average age is 41. At present,
only fve USAID employees
are post reps. The largest
posts currently without a
post rep are Amman, Brasilia,
Khartoum, London and
Mexico City.
OPEN - ENDED
TOP I CS
The program followed a
series of open-ended topics,
ranging from how post reps
are selected to problems
they faced and how AFSA
could provide greater sup-
port. The luncheon partici-
pants’ career experience was
substantial, with some hav-
ing spent more than 30 years
in the Foreign Service.
From the discussion, we
learned how much the roles
of post reps have varied
across the world. While
some had very little to do
beyond referral of cases to
AFSA headquarters, oth-
ers reported substantial
involvement in the events at
post. Many mentioned they
had received complaints
regarding overtime work
and that FSOs are hesi-
tant to complain for fear of
retaliation. They indicated
a need for more substantial
training, including greater
online resources and written
materials.
An interesting discus-
sion on how post reps are
selected ensued, with some
individuals being asked by
post management or the out-
going post rep to volunteer
for the position, while other
posts held elections.
POST REP DUT I ES
Further suggestions
included:
• A more complete descrip-
tion of post rep duties, along
with specifc expectations
from AFSA headquarters.
• Gauge interest and solicit
ideas from membership at
post.
• Create a “letter of cre-
USAID VP VOICE | BY FRANCISCO ZAMORA
Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA USAID VP.
Links in the Field: AFSA Post Representatives
dence” to the ambassador or
deputy chief of mission cer-
tifying the AFSA post rep and
urging good relationships.
• Develop a Foreign Service
Institute distance learning
course for post reps.
• Encourage post reps to
do a consultation with AFSA
when rotating back to D.C.
• Send frequent “post rep
only” messages on the issues
AFSA is working on.
• Provide post reps with
papers on such topics as
Overseas Comparability Pay,
overtime, security issues and
best practices for new reps.
• Clearly defne require-
ments for holding elections.
WORK I NG ON
SUGGEST I ONS
AFSA has already begun
to work on the many invalu-
able suggestions made
during the meeting and is
confdent this work will result
in improved services to its
members. We encourage
active-duty FS employees to
volunteer as post reps. AFSA
will reimburse up to $100 a
year for costs related to AFSA
business, including refresh-
ments for meetings and
other expenses.
The AFSA post represen-
tative program was estab-
lished by the Foreign Service
Act of 1980 and is defned in
the Foreign Afairs Manual.
It is a voluntary position
that forms part of the labor/
management structure and
is formally recognized by the
foreign afairs agencies in
their labor agreements with
AFSA, the exclusive labor
bargaining agent for the
Foreign Service.
I NFORMI NG AFSA
OF I SSUES AT
POST
The post rep does not
negotiate with post manage-
ment, but instead, serves
as AFSA’s representative.
Their job is to inform AFSA of
issues at post and to provide
information, contacts and
resources to post’s AFSA
members. Typically, difcul-
ties between employees and
post management may occur
related to safety, security,
health, family life, living
arrangements, fairness in
bene ts and privileges or
working conditions. Post reps
refer employees to AFSA if
they are the subject of an
investigation by the Of ce
of the Inspector General or
Diplomatic Security. In other
words, they serve as AFSA’s
eyes and ears overseas.
FOR MORE
I NFORMAT I ON
For more information
on AFSA’s post representa-
tive program please go to
www.afsa.org/post_rep
re-
sentatives.aspx.
n
Many mentioned
they had received
complaints
regarding overtime
work and that FSOs
are hesitant to
complain for fear of
retaliation.