Modesto Teachers Association weighs split with CTA

naustin@modbee.comMarch 13, 2014 

— The Modesto Teachers Association will vote on breaking away from its statewide affiliate in April, President Doug Burton announced. The Modesto City Schools union will hold a series of meetings for its members before the vote.

A California Teachers Association representative will be available at a meeting set for Wednesday, Burton said after a teachers meeting held at Downey High School on Thursday. The MTA Representative Assembly decided March 5 to pursue the split through an amendment of the MTA bylaws and constitution, Burton said.

If successful, the break would make Modesto one of only about three chapters out of 1,000 to disaffiliate in the past 15 years, CTA spokesman Jonathan Goldman said Thursday.

Goldman said the dispute boils down to the MTA not following the rules of an annual grant. The local union receives $275,000 a year from the UniServ Program to pay for staff to help the local union.

Modesto City Schools, however, pays Executive Director Megan Gowans’ salary and is reimbursed by the union. The arrangement allows Gowans, a credentialed teacher, to continue to receive retirement credit as if she were still in the classroom.

The CTA is the state’s largest and most politically powerful teachers union, with 325,000 members. It provides legal representation for pink-slipped teachers and contract expertise, teacher trainings and a host of ancillary services available through its website, www.cta.org, Goldman said.

“We’ve been around for 150 years,” Goldman said Thursday. “What we offer is a voice for teachers to shape public education.”

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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