Overcoming numerous obstacles, the Teton Education Association and the IEA reached a landmark agreement with the Teton County School District this summer, negotiating the first master agreement in the history of the southeast Idaho community. TEA president Lisie Smith and her team, along with representatives from the IEA and NEA, displayed determination and persistence in bargaining for a ground-breaking deal.
“We were really happy,” says Smith. “This agreement provides some much-needed stability for our teachers and students, and was a big morale boost for the community. “ The master agreement includes a 1.5% raise on base salary for teachers, along with no change in health and life insurance provisions. It also replaces four furlough days that had been previously instituted.
Past president of the Teton Education Association Juli Gottler was also part of the TEA Master Contract Committee that negotiated the deal, which required some bridge-building with an initially reluctant district leadership. “They were hesitant at first,” says Gottler, but we were able to convince them that a partnership was in the best interest of everyone.” “Once we were able to establish some mutual trust, the process moved along fairly well and the relationship improved.”
Several teachers approached Smith and Gottler about advocating for collective bargaining in the district, and many were involved as the process moved forward. “About 90% of the district teachers signed off on having us negotiate on their behalf,” Smith notes. Many of them also showed their support by attending the bargaining sessions.”
The TEA has also seen an uptick in interest in Association membership as a result of the historic agreement. “I think it validates the effectiveness of the TEA and the IEA, and shows teachers that they can have a voice,” says Gottler. “The support that we received from the IEA was instrumental in getting the deal done, and parent groups and community organizations were very helpful as well.”