Military Affairs Update - 11/26/13
Military Affairs Update - 11/26/13


MLA Problems

MLA Problems? There’s an App for That

’Tis the season, and once again this year we are getting a number of calls and e-mails from crew members with Guard and Reserve obligations who tell us that they are having issue with the company regarding military leave over peak. So, once again, we will provide a list of your rights, under the law (including how to take MLA without using VIPS), and announce a new application that will allow our crew force to report these issues, helping us respond to them and facilitating the Association’s ability to capture and track these issues.

First, the law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA):

  • USERRA states that it supersedes any contract policy or practice.

  • You “notify” your employer of MLA (not “request” it).

  • The notification can be verbal or in writing (email counts).

  • The employer may not impose any procedural requirements on you regarding MLA.

  • There is no requirement for any written confirmation of military service prior to MLA, ever.

  • You have a right to MLA, so long as there is a valid underlying “absence from civilian employment necessitated by military service,” the military service does not have to be your “sole reason” for taking MLA, even if the MLA coincides with peak, or a holiday.

  • You are only required to provide written confirmation of your eligibility for reemployment following MLA greater than 30 days after your return—a letter from your command satisfies this requirement.

  • USERRA makes it illegal for the company to harass you or discipline you for exercising your rights under the law.

The Department of Labor’s user-friendly regs on USERRA (try them, you’ll like them): (heads up, the address has changed from previous articles). Following (and enforcing) the law:

  • You may, of course, use VIPS to submit MLA. Many do without issue. You will have to enter your commander's contact information which historically has auto-generated an email to that individual.

  • You may submit your notification of MLA via e-mail to your fleet captain or phone call to a duty officer, you need not use VIPS nor await “approval” from the company. If the company chooses not to process your MLA in a timely manner, that’s on them – you’re covered.

  • You, and your command, will likely be contacted by the company regarding MLA over peak. As always, be courteous, professional, and honest in all your dealings with the company, but FedEx has no right to know anything about your service, your “motivation” of the timing of your MLA, or any other peripheral information about your MLA. For Title 32 commanders (Guard), the commander has an obligation to consider the company’s input regarding your MLA, but no obligation to act on it or explain itself to the company. The right to MLA belongs to the member, not the company or the command (see words for commanding officers, below).

  • If you take MLA that exceeds 30 days, after you return, the company can require you to document your eligibility for reemployment. Orders, LES, or a DD-214 all satisfy this requirement, but contain additional Opsec and Persec information that may not be appropriate to share with the employer. A letter from the appropriate authority within your command also satisfies this requirement, by merely stating that “crewmember is eligible for reemployment with FedEx, under USERRA, as of [date].”

  • The Department of Labor enforces USERRA through their “VETS” department. You can pursue an MLA issue through VETS, here:

Words for commanding officers:

  • Your Military Affairs Committee offers the following to pass along to your Commanding Officers. FedEx is well within their rights to request that a members MLA be rescheduled or changed. Please remind your Chain of Command that when they receive the phone call from FedEx management that the individual they are speaking with is not a current member of the Armed Forces with valid security clearances—any misrepresentations of such should be dealt with in military channels (i.e. the CO should consult the JAG). As such, care should be taken to avoid compromising Operational Security or violating Privacy Act issues. Courtesy and professionalism are the keys to communicating with the company, and it should be a two-way street. Please continue to report any instances of intimidation or perceived pressure arising from a phone call between management and your Commanding Officer. Unit CO’s can feel free to contact the ALPA Military Affairs Committee members with any questions or concerns. Military Affairs Vice Chair Phil Faucheux—a former Reserve Commanding officer—is a valuable resource for your commanders.

The app:

  • The app allows you to capture incidents with the company in real time. It links to a page on the Mil Affairs Committee site.

  • It is secure, requiring you to log in using your ALPA credentials, and it has drop down menus and comment boxes to facilitate its usage.

  • Please place a shortcut to the page on your home screen and use it to report any MLA issues that arise.

As always:

  • “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”—we recommend that you make all of your military-related communications with the company in writing, including e-mail (or follow-up meetings/phone calls with a memo of record), cc’d to  And make your initial communication with the Military Affairs Committee through the app.

  • A great resource for USERRA questions—DoL’s regs on USERRA (like the FARs of USERRA, in a great Q&A, web navigable format):

Very Respectfully,

F/O Steve Miller                                 F/O Phil Faucheux
Military Affairs Committee Chair      Military Affairs Committee Vice Chair
610-716-2777                                    901-378-9272