The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2020

82 JULY-AUGUST 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS Extraordinary Times: An Extraordinary Request BY AFSA SECRETARY KENNETH KERO-MENTZ Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and the past several years have indeed been exceptional for the Foreign Service and for AFSA. AFSA has risen to the unprecedented challenges of these years and has expanded and improved our member services and outreach. (See AFSA News in the March 2020 FSJ for a full report.) Even as we continue our work on your behalf, we know that the need to maintain a strong, professional career Foreign Service is greater than ever, and our work will need to deepen. We are reaching out now to our members for your sup- port to do this. We are asking for a modest, additional $6 to $13 annually from each of you to enable us to increase the reach and impact of AFSA’s work. Having served on AFSA’s Governing Board for four terms, I know well how every board strives to meet your needs while ensuring that AFSA—your union and profes- sional association—remains on firm financial footing. AFSA’s bylaws stipulate that the Governing Board may raise membership dues each year by not more than the Consumer Price Index increase (which has ranged from as little as 0 percent to as much as 2.3 percent over the past four years). The bylaws also state that to raise dues beyond the CPI increase a referendum of the entire membership must be held. At the April Governing Board meeting, the board unanimously voted to put our proposal to increase dues above the CPI to a vote of the membership in a special referendum (scheduled for September), and we urge you—our members—to sup- port this modest, one-time increase above the CPI. The dues increase that the Governing Board is asking for is small. Briefly, the referen- dum calls for dues to increase by 50 cents per pay period ($13/year) for FS-3s or above, and 25 cents per pay period ($6.50/year) for FS-04s and below. For annuitants receiving more than $50,000 a year, dues will increase by $1.00 per month ($12/year); and for those earning less, 50 cents per month ($6.00/ year). These changes would take effect on Dec. 31. While we recognize that all of us are being called on to stretch our families’ resources during these uncertain times, particu- larly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope you’ll appreciate how reasonable this increase is per member. But that’s the great thing about being a member of a union. This small increase per member, when multiplied by our nearly 17,000 members, will help AFSA raise sufficient resources—approximately $175,000—to hire additional (badly needed) staff. Over the past several years, AFSA’s resources in member assistance, commu- nications and advocacy have been stretched thin. This additional rev- enue will help AFSA commit resources in these critical areas (as part of the annual budget process) to best align with our Governing Board’s strategic vision: support all of our members and explain the U.S. Foreign Service to Congress, the press and our country. We are making this “extra-ordinary” request for your support for your union because it will help us help you. When the referendum bal- lot is sent to you in Septem- ber (by email if we have your address or by postal mail if not), we urge you to vote YES. If you have any ques- tions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at . n Proposed Dues Increases $0.50/pp for active-duty members at the FS-3 through SFS levels. $0.25/pp for active-duty members at the FS-7 through FS-4 levels. $1.00/month for retirees receiving an annual annuity of $50,000 or more. $0.50/month for retirees receiving an annual annuity of less than $50,000. At the April Governing Board meeting, the board unanimously voted to put our proposal to increase dues above the CPI to a vote of the membership.