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70

NOVEMBER 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

STATE VP VOICE

| BY ANGIE BRYAN

AFSA NEWS

Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA State VP.

Contact:

BryanA@state.gov

| (202) 647-8160

During the recent negotia-

tions over the impact and

implementation of the State

Department’s new danger

pay designations, I asked

AFSA post reps at numerous

danger pay posts to canvass

their membership so that we

could make sure we weren’t

overlooking any potentially

negative consequences that

we ought to try to mitigate.

The responses were pas-

sionate, detailed and articu-

late, often including com-

pelling personal narratives

and detailed legal analysis.

Because of the heavy lifting

by our post reps, we were

able to ensure that the for-

mal proposals we submitted

to the department covered

the areas of greatest concern

to our membership.

We didn’t achieve the

results we had hoped for dur-

ing the negotiations, but we

were able to protect certain

benefits and ensure that ser-

vice at a danger pay post is

credited, regardless of what

happened with the new des-

ignations. Much of the credit

for that goes not only to the

post reps who compiled the

field perspectives, but also

to our membership overseas

who took the time to respond

in detail to the post reps’ call

for input.

Posts (both management

and employees) often view

the AFSA post rep position

as just another slot on the

“designation of duties” or

“delegation of authorities”

list, which needs to be filled.

Posts often view the AFSA post rep

position as just another slot on the

“designations of duties” list to fill. In

fact, the AFSA post rep should be elected

and play an active role in discussing new

policies with post management.

AFSA Post Reps: Not Your Average Appointment

In fact, the AFSA post rep

should be elected by AFSA

members at post and should

play an active role in discuss-

ing new policies with post

management.

How many of you mem-

bers or post reps have ever

consulted 3 FAH-1 H-5120, “Guidelines for Implemen- tation of Chapter 10 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, at Foreign Ser- vice Posts”? (Don’t feel bad,

I

hadn’t heard of it until I took

this job!)

This chapter in the

Foreign Affairs Handbook

outlines the AFSA post rep

program, with a particular

focus on the role post reps

may (and should) play in

discussions with post man-

agement.

Of greatest interest is the

chapter’s list of the numer-

ous types of local policy

issues that post manage-

ment should normally agree

to discuss with AFSA post

reps: local post-funded train-

ing, permissible employee

activities, post parking

regulations, duty rosters and

work schedules, housing

and furnishings (including

temporary housing), local

handling and procedures for

local clearance of house-

hold effects, procedures for

obtaining local medical care,

health unit operations, hous-

ing board membership and

use of post facilities.

Issues not appropriate

for discussion by AFSA post

reps include post security

policies, policies confined

to management officials

and confidential employees,

municipal/state/national

laws, post budget, and

matters under negotiation

between the department and

AFSA in Washington.

As you can see, AFSA

post reps have a pretty wide

mandate when it comes

to discussing policies with

post management. As the

AFSA website outlines, they

also help us disseminate

information to members,

forward member proposals

to us, and direct members

to our labor management

attorneys in cases where a

member is being asked to be

interviewed by the regional

security office or the office

of the Inspector General, for

example.

In many cases, AFSA post

reps have brought major

policy issues to our atten-

tion, allowing us to raise

them with the department

in a more holistic fashion. In

other cases, it has been an

AFSA post rep who has come

up with a good idea that we

end up implementing for the

benefit of our entire mem-

bership—the Zipcar discount

is one such example. Some

post reps build on their

AFSA service overseas by

running for a position on the

AFSA Governing Board once

they’re back in Washington.

We have approximately

270 post rep positions

overseas, only 65 percent of

which are filled. That leaves

more than 90 opportunities

for our members to step up

and become AFSA post reps.

If your post doesn’t already

have an AFSA rep, please

consider throwing your hat

into the ring. It’s a one-year

commitment that can make

a big difference in the quality

of life for your colleagues.

Whether you’re a post

rep or a member, your ideas,

suggestions, requests and

concerns are always of

interest to us. Many of the

proposals that I have submit-

ted to the department since

taking office in July have

originated from colleagues in

the field—why not have your

idea be next?

Be a part of the solution

and reach out to us at

member@afsa.org.

n