Attention All Eligible Family Members: Call to Action Regarding the EFM Hiring Freeze

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) recently re-established the EFM Employment Working Group, which is coordinating a number of efforts related to the hiring freeze as they pertain to EFMs. If you would like to find out more, please email office@aafsw.org.

As a group, we do have power when we act together towards a common goal! Right now, we need all EFMs and their families to contact their Senators and Representatives to draw their attention to the negative effects of the hiring freeze on mission operations. Even if you are an EFM who does not want or need to work, we need your support on this very important initiative.

The current hiring freeze is already impacting EFM hiring levels, and many of us are feeling it on a personal level. As you know, the U.S. Department of State is undergoing a detailed review, which includes staffing levels. Decisions on EFM hiring are due to be made in early September. The time to act is now.

There were 2,650 jobs overseas in the Department last year. There were 763 “pending” jobs in April 2017. This means that an EFM was selected for a position, but was not hired because his/her clearance was not granted by January 23rd. Many more jobs have been advertised and need to be filled. Let’s act together now to end the hiring freeze.

 Here’s what you can do to help:

 1 – CALL
2 – WRITE

To find contact info for your Senators and Representatives, go to the following sites:
https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

(1) CALL your Senators and Representatives until Congress recesses (currently scheduled for July 28). When you call, tell them how the hiring freeze – as it impacts EFMs – is negatively affecting State Department operations.

Focus your message on the following:

  • ADVANCING FOREIGN POLICY: EFMs (Eligible Family Members) work in Political and Economic sections, Public Diplomacy, Consular sections (not only visas, but also fraud investigation), Development Assistance, U.S. Exports, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and Management support (nurse, doctor, IT specialists, facilities maintenance, architect, security escorts, procurement, etc.). Without EFMs in these positions, FSOs would not be able to focus on their core mission advancing United States interests abroad.
  • SECURITY: Practically all of these positions require security clearances and cannot be filled by local employees (LES: Locally Engaged Staff). If no EFM can be hired to do the job, it will either not be done or it will have to be performed by FSOs, to the detriment of their core job.
  • RETENTION OF THE BEST FSOs, AND REFLECTING AMERICA: State is committed to a diverse Foreign Service. Diversity is not only about race or religion, but also about family composition. Diversity hiring makes sure that the image of the US we project abroad reflects the United States. If FSOs with families start to leave or retire early because of lack of EFM employment, the general population of FSOs will be less likely to reflect America. Quality FSOs know they can easily work elsewhere and will leave State.
  • BUDGET MINDFULNESS: An EFM only costs his/her salary (on a much lower pay scale than FSOs), with no additional benefits aside from those already factored in when the FSO is hired (moving, housing, medical care, etc.) Most EFMs are highly educated and already know embassy procedures.
    A Secret/Top Secret clearance is expensive to process. Once an EFM has a clearance, it would be wasteful not to use it by hiring an outside contractor, who would have to go through the expensive clearance process.
  • MORALE: Missions around the world are already feeling the stress of overwork. Organization morale is suffering. More than 12,000 EFMs are deployed around the world serving their country with their spouses, and the great majority want to work. While the State Department’s hiring freeze has no impact on FSOs, EFMs must resign and re-apply for positions every time they change jobs, even at the same post. The negative impact from this policy has already been felt with nearly one quarter of EFM positions remaining unfilled at this time, and even more will be unfilled by the end of the summer 2017 transfer season.
  • EFMs pay U.S. taxes on income earned from positions at embassies and consulates.
  • HIRE AMERICAN: This is a key policy of the new administration in an effort to “keep American jobs at home”. We urge you to support the U.S. Department of State to choose and continue to hire spouses of American diplomats (EFMs).

If you can, include a few words about the personal impact of the hiring freeze.

Important Notices
Try to avoid including information about why your family needs the extra salary or other personal hardship: it will not sway Congress and it will detract from the overall message. Americans are struggling everywhere. EFMs are not owed jobs. Make the case for EFM positions being a good deal for our country: they save taxpayers money and they protect our country by advancing the mission of the United States government.

Please be respectful of the new administration and their ideas, proposals and policies. Please do not work on the appeal while at work, or on government’s time. Also, do not use any government-issued devices when making the appeal, such as a government-issued telephone or computer.

(2) WRITE: Send a letter via snail mail and through a form on representatives’ websites. (Keep in mind that the website forms have a 4,000 character limit.) Copy relevant people on your letters to Congress. Be sure to state that you are a constituent and from State/City/County.

Please cc AAFSW on your letter (office@aafsw.org) so we can compile a dossier of real life situations and track numbers.

If you have any questions, please contact office@aafsw.org.

AAFSW EFM Employment Working Group

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Sample Letter:

The following is a sample letter you may want to send to your representative and senators. If you have a personal story to share, or evidence of the impact of EFM positions at your Mission, please add a paragraph to this effect.

Subject Line: Hiring Freeze at the U.S. Department of State: Eligible Family Member (EFM) Employment

Dear [Representative/Senator _____]:

My name is [insert your name here] and my spouse is a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) with the U.S. Department of State (or USAID). I am writing to address the significant negative effect of the hiring freeze on embassy and consulate substantive operations, affecting security, budget, and the overall strategic mission goals. I ask that you exert your influence to exempt Eligible Family Members (EFMs) from the hiring freeze at the U.S. Department of State.

There are several good reasons why I ask you to consider this:

A – Use bullet points above.

B -If applicable, insert personal story and/or information about how the freeze is impacting your Post, with facts and figures if you have some that you can share.

I hope you will bring this matter to the attention of your colleagues to help ensure that the U.S. Department of State continues its essential mission at embassies and consulates throughout the world. Your assistance in lifting the freeze on EFM hiring would be highly appreciated.

Sincerely,

(Print/Sign Your First and Last Name)

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