The Foreign Service Journal, March 2020

66 MARCH 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS 2019 AFSA Treasurer’s Report BY VIRGINIA BENNETT, AFSA TREASURER The American Foreign Service Association is in excellent financial health as of the end of 2019. AFSA’s financial reserves are strong, benefitting significantly from robust market gains during the year. The operating reserve level of $3.6 million at the end of 2019 represents roughly 65 percent of AFSA’s operating budget for 2020. That is an important metric at a time of uncertainty in many quarters and represents meaningful progress toward the associa- tion’s sustainability. AFSA’s new president and governing board (as of mid-2019) aimed to ensure the 2020 budget is both prudent and supports the robust implementation of AFSA’s strategic priorities: sustaining and building on the best possible service for AFSA’s members and effec- tive, agile advocacy for the U.S. Foreign Service. AFSA is operating at a time of serious challenge to the Foreign Service, its members and its role in promoting U.S. global leadership and prosperity and security at home and abroad. Your ongoing financial support sustains and drives AFSA’s advocacy, outreach and service to members. We look forward to your con- tinuing commitment to this vital mission in 2020. Budget Operations More than 82 percent of AFSA’s $5.3-million planned operating budget for calen- dar year 2020 comes from membership dues. AFSA’s membership base stood at 16,680 at the end of 2019, representing more than 80 percent of active- duty employees across the foreign affairs agencies, as well as approximately 28 percent of Foreign Service retirees. Member dues increased by a modest 1.7 percent for 2020, in line with the Con- sumer Price Index. In addition to serving members on the traditional range of retirement, labor and other issues, AFSA has greatly strengthened its public advocacy and outreach over the past three years to highlight the contributions the career For- eign Service makes to U.S. national security. AFSA has worked strate- gically to leverage our retiree members in this effort, and we thank this cohort for their energetic and effective mobilization. AFSA and its political action committee also the sole discretion not to recommend any PRAs to the president. Even if the Grievance Board grants the department’s motion, AFSA believes that our advocacy contributed to the depart- ment’s resumption of the PRA process in 2018. At USAID, the agency continues to make Foreign Service Limited appoint- ments to Foreign Service positions, including supervi- sory positions. AFSA previ- ously negotiated a memo- randum of understanding with the agency regarding FSL appointments. Despite this agreement, the agency continued its practice of FSL appointment. As a result of the agency’s breach of this negotiated agreement, AFSA filed an implementation dispute. At the Foreign Com- mercial Service, we raised concerns about the agency’s failure to pay MSIs and its delay in awarding Senior Foreign Service performance pay. We also negotiated changes to the assignments and tour of duty policy. We continued to actively engage Foreign Agricultural Service management through our collective bargaining agreements. One significant change has been that FAS has started to implement a low-ranking policy for its selection boards that it has not actively done in the past. We will see how this affects our members. In 2019, Voice of America and AFSA enjoyed a reopen- ing of constructive dialogue. AFSA brought to the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s attention concerns it had with the posting of FS posi- tions on the USA Jobs web- site and the lack of trans- parency and consistency in the selection board and promotion process, as well as concerns of individual members. We engaged with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service management and asked that they begin plan- ning for broader negotia- tions toward a full collective bargaining agreement. In the meantime, however, we remain engaged in discus- sions over changes to condi- tions for our members. In 2019, we filed an infor- mation request with man- agement regarding changes to the TIC/TIS policy that affected a number of SFS members hired prior to 2006. APHIS’ response pro- vided us with further infor- mation, but we continue to look at the issue as it affects our members. n