The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 49 AFSA NEWS AFSA Meets with Employee Organizations There are currently almost three dozen employee organizations (EO) in the State Department, and AFSA leaders meet with them on a regular basis to learn about their concerns and discuss ways we can work together in our advocacy. On Dec. 14, AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi, State AFSA VP Tina Wong, and AFSA sta˜ met with representatives from Singles at State. Yazdgerdi outlined AFSA’s advocacy on the National Defense Authorization Act and other areas of advocacy a˜ecting single members of the Foreign Service. Singles at State leaders raised concerns about potential discrepancies between single and married members of the Service when it comes to the availability of remote work agreements versus DETO opportunities, the lack of access to reproductive health options, workplace flexibility and its relationship with eldercare issues, and more. According to the group, single employees represent 27 percent of the department’s direct-hire workforce; Singles at State seeks to raise awareness of how department policies a˜ect our unmarried, divorced, and widowed employees, including single parents. For more information, contact On Jan. 11, Yazdgerdi and Wong met with leaders of the Disability Action Group (DAG). DAG representatives provided an update of recent changes in the department’s worldwide availability policy and expressed concern about the perceived slow pace of change. They noted a department focus on initial hiring, but not on an expansion of the new, more equitable worldwide availability principles to assignments for existing employees, and a general lack of transparency in the medical (MED) clearance process, asking for AFSA’s assistance in implementing a transparent process that better addresses the needs of new employees. DAG strives to promote the full and equal participation of people with disabilities department-wide, improve disability awareness, and provide a platform for discussing issues of accommodation. For more information, write to DAGCouncil@ On Feb. 5, Yazdgerdi and Wong met with members of the board of Parallel Professionals, an organization focused on the professional development and careers of Foreign Service spouses and partners. A relatively new employee organization, it already has more than 700 members, including Civil Service, contractors, family members, and a small number of interagency personnel. The group’s biggest goal is to support passage of the Readiness Act, proposed legislation that includes both FS and military spouses and o˜ers a menu of options for spouses faced with a PCS (personnel change of station) move, including consideration for Domestic Employee Teleworking Overseas (DETO) status, reassignment to a job in the new region/post, or conversion to leave without pay (LWOP) status. Members are also working to tally DETO and remote work agreement (RWA) denials in both the Foreign and the Civil Service, and advocating for NCE (noncompetitive eligibility) parity with military spouses. Group attendees noted the persistent low pay/low grades for spouses at post and the need to track how many FS spouses are able to use their non-competitive eligibility (NCE) for employment when returning to D.C. For more information, contact ParallelProfessionalsBoard@ n Tom Yazdgerdi, center front, in blue shirt, with retired AFSA members at annual meeting of the Foreign Service Retirees Association in Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 26. COURTESY OF EVEN HOTEL SARASOTA-LAKEWOOD RANCH In Boca Raton the next day, Yazdgerdi visited Florida Atlantic University, once again meeting with students interested in learning about the Foreign Service as a career, first at the Boca Raton campus and later at the Jupiter campus, where he joined students in an advanced diplomacy class. The Foreign Service, he told them, is “a demanding profession and one of sacrifice. “Members join the Foreign Service not for the money or the public glory; they join because of a sense of duty to their country and a desire to contribute to America’s continued security and prosperity.” n On the Road with AFSA’s President Continued from page 43