Blaine County administrators form their own union, a first of its kind

KETCHUM — Blaine County School District administrators formed their own union for the purpose of negotiating salaries and benefits with the school board.

Trustees asked administrators in April if they were interested in negotiating their compensation packages. Typically, a superintendent decides the pay and benefits of district directors and coordinators while trustees approve an overall budget. Boards traditionally negotiate only with teachers’ unions over compensation packages.

Wayne Brown of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said this is the first time in Idaho history public school administrators have formed a union.

Twenty-two Blaine County administrators, including district personnel and principals, are unionized with the Teamsters. The Teamsters will assist the administrators as they attempt to agree to terms with trustees on a master contract, a salary scale and possibly individual contracts — similar to what teachers negotiate.

Blaine County does not have a salary schedule for administrators, said Heather Crocker, the district’s director of communications. She is a member of the recently formed union.

The negotiations are scheduled to begin Nov. 29 and evening sessions are planned throughout the week if necessary. Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes will side with the trustees during the negotiation process.

“They reached out to us to protect their jobs and their rights,” said Brown. He also said Blaine County’s union formed as a “necessity created by new trustees.”

The Teamsters recently sent letters to Nampa School District administrators asking if they, too, would like to form a union. Brown said the union selected Nampa because of its size and proximity to the Teamsters’ Boise-based office.

His letter says forming a union is “an opportunity to protect yourself from an overzealous school board.”

The letter also says he has observed in Idaho situations where employers have attempted to reduce workers’ rights and “some school boards have become disrespectful and even abusive in their approach with school administrators.”

Ultimately, the Teamsters will invite administrators from all Treasure Valley districts to form a union. Brown also said he has had many informal inquiries from public school administrators about unionizing.