May 30, 2014

Modesto Teachers Association, state affiliate talking settlement, put off court date

The court hearing set for this morning on a dispute between the Modesto Teachers Association and its state affiliate was rescheduled for June 13 as settlement discussions continue, the MTA attorney said.

The court hearing set for Friday morning on a dispute between the Modesto Teachers Association and its state affiliate was rescheduled for June 13.

“Both sides agreed to extend the TRO (temporary restraining order) for two weeks to June 13, and we are likely to do so again until June 27. We are working towards a settlement. I cannot give details of the issues or proposals due to confidentiality,” MTA attorney Rafael Ruano said by email Friday.

Ruano said further discussions will be held next week between representatives of the MTA and the California Teachers Association. Each side has legal actions pending over control of the Modesto Teachers Association leadership and assets.

The state union placed MTA under a trusteeship May 5, the eve of what it called an illegal vote on disaffiliation by the local chapter. The balloting went ahead, however, with teachers voting 58 percent to 40 percent to stay with the state union.

On May 15, Superior Court Judge Timothy Salter granted the MTA’s request to set aside the trusteeship temporarily, allowing it to finish negotiations on a three-year contract with Modesto City Schools for its members and continue day-to-day operations.

CTA trustees said their plan, if the trusteeship is restored, is to bring the local chapter’s bylaws in line with state and national requirements and hold new elections for Modesto officers to take the helm. MTA’s current officers would be eligible to run again.

The MTA proposal to break away stemmed from the threat of losing its long-standing $280,000 staffing grant through tje California Teachers Association because of compliance issues. Modesto is the only CTA affiliate in the area with such a grant. Other chapters said they pay for some time off for officers, relying more heavily on the state union’s experts and the CTA regional office in Ceres.

The Modesto local pays three staff members with the funding, funneling its executive director’s salary through Modesto City Schools. The arrangement allows the individual to accrue retirement credit and maintain employment rights as if still teaching. But CTA says it violates conditions of the grant and the State Teachers Retirement System is investigating the job’s eligibility for retirement credit.

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