Modesto Disaffiliation Vote Set for May 6

The Modesto Teachers Association is all set to decide whether it wants to continue being part of the California Teachers Association. The local claims 1,525 members, which would make it the largest CTA local affiliate to break away if the vote goes that way on May 6.

The decision by MTA’s officers was apparently triggered by the use of CTA grant money to give MTA’s executive director release time. CTA says the grant is for local officers only, not staffers. It seems a little weak for a casus belli, so I assume MTA has had its differences with CTA in the past.

MTA is a moderately large local, but not so large that its absence would significantly affect CTA’s coffers. Nevertheless, the state union can’t have locals running around doing their own thing. It would set a bad precedent for waverers elsewhere in the state.

CTA complained about lack of access to MTA’s members to get its message out, and is already threatening to contest the results of an election that is three weeks away.

The Modesto school district ruled that, according to the collective bargaining agreement, MTA is the exclusive representative and so CTA will not be allowed to distribute its materials to teachers, nor use district email.

CTA says the teachers are also its members, and filed an unfair labor practice against the district, claiming the district’s stance requires that “any attempt by MTA to amend its certification to reflect disaffiliation from CTA be denied.”

Although disaffiliations are rare, the National Education Association suffered a large one last year when the 3,000 members of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly went their own way. I expect NEA and CTA will make every effort, including litigation, to keep this from becoming a trend. Only time will tell if they borrow the much more direct tactics of the American Federation of Teachers.


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