AFSA Representation and EERs

As most of you know, it is inadmissible to include in an EER any comment concerning "Participation or nonparticipation of personnel in the American Foreign Service Association, the American Federation of Government Employees, and the National Federation of Federal Employees, or other collective bargaining organizations" (3 FAM 2815 b.(11)).

All is not lost, however. It is possible to highlight what you have done as the AFSA Rep, without directly mentioning AFSA. Indeed, this work falls neatly within the core precept of participating actively in outreach or community service activities that directly contribute to employee welfare. This means that you will want to see a remark in Section IVb of the EER (Evaluation of Performance and Accomplishments) highlighting the fact that you have actively assisted several employees when they have sought advice on issues affecting their conditions of service, either directly or by putting them in touch with the appropriate experts. Your rater may be able to mention specific examples of how you did that as well; so long as they are related to helping employee welfare at post, they can legitimately be mentioned, omitting any mention of AFSA, of course.

It is also admissible to include qualities you displayed in the performance of your AFSA Rep duties in the comments in the appropriate competency groups. "Community Service" is a sub-group of Leadership Skills, but some of the subgroups of Interpersonal Skills (Teamwork, Social Perceptiveness and Persuasion and Negotiation), and Communication and Foreign Language Skills (Written and Oral Communication, and Active Listening) are also extremely relevant. Your reviewer, too, can include both general and specific comments in Section VI. It's best, though, if no more than a brief sentence or two in these sections touch on this aspect of your work, since space is limited and you are likely to have many other accomplishments and qualities that need to be highlighted.

However, you will find more opportunities to mention what you achieved as AFSA Rep in your Rated Officer's Statement (Section VII). A general statement to the effect that "I had the opportunity to assist several post employees in matters affecting their personal welfare", could be the lead-in to some more specific remarks – perhaps in bullet form. Examples of how to deal with specific examples are:

  • You sat on the housing board as the AFSA representative:

    "Though a non-voting member, I attended Housing Board meetings to represent employee interests".

  • After employees had approached you as AFSA Rep, you negotiated a revised policy for residential phone lines:

    "Responding to a number of employees' concerns about a recent Administrative Notice on the policy for residential phone lines, I discussed ways of meeting their needs with the Management Counselor and achieved a resolution." (Plug in "parking", "van pool policy", or any other appropriate issue, instead of "residential phone lines)

  • You worked on post's policy for diplomatic and duty-free privileges on behalf of A & T personnel:

    "I gathered information on the reciprocity policy for host country diplomats and A & T personnel in the US, and proposed a way ahead to ensure that A & T personnel at post enjoyed similar privileges".

  • In your capacity as AFSA Rep, you represented specialists and untenured officers in discussions about overtime payments and achieved a revised policy at post. This is trickier, since it clearly involves human resources policies and practices. We suggest:

    "In response to a request from my co-workers, I familiarized myself with the rules for payment of premium pay. After I had discussed their application with post managers, they made a significant and advantageous change to the policy".

  • In your capacity as AFSA Rep, you sat in on several DS and OIG interviews and took notes. This, too, is trickier; it is very hard to devise a satisfactory form of words that does not draw a direct line between your sitting in on the interview and your position as AFSA Rep, without being so obscure as to be virtually meaningless.

    "I responded to a number of requests from co-workers to take notes at interviews that could affect their careers." Though bland, we believe this is both meaningful and clear in its intent.

In summary, the key is not to mention AFSA or the words "representative" and "members," or to get into so much detail that AFSA is identified by inference.