As you know, AFSE leaders have been dealing with the issue of NEA changing the reimbursement for AFSE staff traveling on assignment and the submission of vouchers for said travel. AFSE leaders have been in consultation with and receiving guidance from its lawyers and from NSO from the beginning.
Again, NEA Human Resources claimed that NEA could and would no longer reimburse AFSE staff a full 100% per diem on the first and last day of travel regardless of incurring an overnight. Furthermore, the monetary amounts reimbursed to individuals that were over 75% of the per diem for 2017 had to be reported to IRS as taxable income. Additionally, without any warning or notice, NEA's Business and Finance Department changed a condition of travel reimbursement when it responded to certain individual staff that their vouchers would not be processed for reimbursement of mileage without the attachment of Google maps or Mapquest to verify said mileage.
AFSE immediately responded with 1) issuing a Demand to Impact Bargain both issues; 2) pushing HR to formally and officially notify each AFSE employee who would incur the taxable income for 2017; and 3) pushing HR to provide each employee who would incur the taxable income with a packet of information showing exactly how the amount of taxable income was calculated for him/her, including supporting documentation. AFSE has had been
After making no headway in working with NEA, AFSE elicited assistance from the NSO 1st Vice President for Defense, Mike Boyer, to act as AFSE advocate. Mike sent a letter to NEA HR reiterating AFSE's Demand to Bargain and notice that failure to schedule bargaining would result in AFSE filing a ULP. Upon recommendation from the officers, the AFSE Executive Committee had agreed upon the Bargaining Team:
Jorge Rivera, Jake Sweeney, James E Sledge, and Valerie Wilk (AFSE President to be note taker and ex-officio).
AFSE began impact bargaining with NEA on Friday, February 2, around two issues:
1. Per Diem Rate 2. Requirements of maps to substantiate mileage reimbursement.
Below is a summary of the day of bargaining:
NEA determined that the per diem rate must be 75% on any day of travel to or from home office, whether or not there is an overnight incurred due to IRS regulations. They have also tried to impose “third party” validation for mileage reimbursement. NEA is concerned about potential Department of Labor audit that would scrutinize the current practice. We were not able reach an agreement. Although we made some progress, NEA believes that, what they have already imposed on all of us these past two months are the solutions to these issues.
The AFSE Bargaining Team was well prepared and did a very professional and competent job, as usual, on our behalf! We thank them for their time and hard work. The parties are tentatively scheduled to return to the table on Wednesday, February 7th.
Please continue any instructions from AFSE leadership until there is a tentative agreement to bring to you.