Page 67 - Foreign Service Journal - March 2013

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MARCH 2013
Labor Management, Continued from page 50
reprimand. It also upheld penalties ranging from three-to-10-
day suspensions when afairs were accompanied by aggravat-
ing factors.
AFSA’s concern, as also expressed by the Grievance Board,
is that current regulations (3 FAM 4130 and 4139.1) do not
clearly express the department’s position on relations with
consenting partners without any “aggravating factors.”While
we do not condone scandalous behavior or that which could
subject the employee to coercion, we have considered a num-
ber of cases to constitute unwarranted intrusion into employ-
ees’ private lives. If this is a realm into which the department
wishes to extend its infuence, it should give employees better
In addition, it should carefully examine the circum-
stances to determine if the conduct can “reasonably” be
expected to impair the employee’s performance by reason of
blackmail, as the 3 FAM requires.
Social Media Guidance
AFSA received more than a dozen requests for guidance on
the department’s rules relating to the use of social media and
the clearance process for publication of books, articles and
blogs. In mid-November, when Public Afairs informed AFSA
of its intended revisions to 3 FAM 4170, LM staf played a key
role in reviewing the proposed changes and providing com-
ments and suggestions by taking into account our members’
concerns and desires. We were informed that many of our
comments would be incorporated into PA’s fnal revisions to 3
FAM 4170.
In late 2012, Foreign Service ofcers employed by the Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service selected AFSA to be their
exclusive representatives. AFSA welcomes APHIS to the AFSA
Foreign Service family.
Myriad Issues
The LM staf also assisted AFSA members with myriad issues
stemming from their Foreign Service employment. We wrote
letters to Atlas Van Lines on behalf of an employee whose
household efects were infested with bed bugs; to Bank of
America and Wells Fargo relating to several members’ primary
residence; to Interstate National Dealers Service regarding a
member’s residency as it afected his automobile warranty;
to California State University regarding in-state tuition; to the
State Department Federal Credit Union on behalf of the widow
of a Foreign Service employee who died while serving over-
seas; to Audubon Village Apartments requesting the termina-
tion of an employee’s lease due to the employee’s assignment
overseas; and to the clerk of a court in Florida regarding
excusing an employee serving overseas from jury duty.
memorative Marker in May.
This product recognizes the
careers and contributions
of Foreign Service employ-
ees and their spouses and
We also inaugurated the
“Federal Benefts Speaker
Series.” Experts addressed
issues of importance to retir-
ees and those approaching
retirement. Paula Jakub, vice
president of the American
Foreign Service Protective
Association, described the
coordination between the
Federal Employees Health
Beneft Program and Medi-
care; Dr. Judy Feder, a health
policy expert and professor
at Georgetown University,
spoke about the future of
Medicare; and Walton Fran-
cis, author of the
Checkbook Guide to Federal
Health Plans
, explained how
to compare federal health
Understanding the diferences in benefts between Medicare and the Federal Employees Health Beneft Program can be just as hard to explain as it is to
comprehend, if gesticulating is any indication. Members of the audience ask questions of Dr. Judy Feder and Walton Francis at two diferent AFSA events.