The Foreign Service Journal, November 2015

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: | (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 n