Modesto teachers’ vote will stand – no split from state union

05/07/2014 9:53 AM

05/07/2014 9:57 PM

The Modesto Teachers Association vote against breaking away from its state affiliate will stand, members reported Wednesday evening.

A Wednesday morning email to members from President Doug Burton had said the vote was declared invalid because there were two more votes than the 935 signatures. But in an evening meeting, the MTA Representative Assembly reportedly voted to ratify the vote as it was.

The overcount would not have affected the result, which had 58 percent voting against the split sought by MTA leadership and 40 percent in favor. Nineteen votes were judged to be invalid.

Reached by email before Wednesday evening’s meeting, Burton said he was going to recommend that the MTA leadership group ratify the vote even with the two errant votes.

“Two votes one way or the other would not have made any difference,” Burton wrote. “Any mistakes that were made were human error. I don’t believe that anyone attempted to corrupt the vote in either direction. We made every effort to keep this a clean, transparent vote.”

The election took place despite a last-minute effort to block it by the state association. The California Teachers Association put the local into trusteeship Monday, saying the election did not comply with disaffiliation rules and would not be valid.

Trustees attempted to seize MTA’s Coffee Road office and its bank accounts Monday. Neither effort succeeded. CTA trustee Bill McMurray said he spent Wednesday in the union’s regional office in Ceres, gathering legal papers to press the state affiliate’s claim in court.

“The bottom-line question you’re asking (is), did today’s activities actually change what either party is trying to do, and the answer is, it did not,” McMurray said.

The proposal to disaffiliate came after the state union ruled that MTA was out of compliance with rules of a long-standing grant and would lose its $280,000 annual staffing subsidy. The leadership voted to opt out of the state union, which would have brought home the majority of its dues revenue to continue to pay its executive director, office manager and secretary, as well as paying for time off for a full-time president and partial time of 15 officers and committee members.

The local chapter framed the vote as one for local control and lower dues, pledging to cut members’ contributions by nearly a third. If the vote failed, an MTA flier said, the $1,106 annual dues for members would go up to make up for the grant money that would be lost.

The grant has been in place for more than 30 years, paying for MTA to employ an executive director, office manager and secretary. But for the past 22 years, the MTA has been led by former teachers and the chapter has paid the school district to be the employer of record, to let the individuals keep accruing retirement credit as if teaching and have a guarantee of a teaching job to fall back on.

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