Photo courtesy of CTA

The membership of California’s largest teachers’ union, and by far the largest state-level teachers’ union in the nation, has declined by about 15,000.

That’s according to figures on the California Teachers Association’s website, which until August listed its membership as 325,000. The number is now 310,000.

For at least the last five years, the CTA has posted its membership as 325,000 and it is not clear over what period its membership has declined.

But the decline appears to be largely the result of the “disaffiliation” this past spring of the California Faculty Association from the CTA. The association represents faculty and other staff at the California State University system and had been affiliated with the CTA for decades and thus were automatically CTA members.

Claudia Briggs, a CTA spokesperson, said the new membership tally is the result of a combination of the loss of approximately 19,000 California Faculty Association members, 22,000 new members the CTA signed up over the past year and ongoing teacher retirements. “Taking all of these into consideration, we adjusted our membership number,” she said.

The decision of the faculty association to leave the CTA followed the unexpected vote in March by the CTA’s 800-member State Council to elect E. Toby Boyd as its president, succeeding Eric Heins. At the time, Boyd was not even an officeholder in the organization, and was just one of nearly two dozen members of the board of directors.

After Heins unexpectedly backed Boyd at the State Council meeting, Boyd was selected over Theresa Montaño, a CSU faculty member who was the CTA’s vice president at the time. With rare exceptions, the CTA’s vice president has succeeded the outgoing president, who is elected to a maximum of two two-year terms.

Montaño, a former teacher and staffer with United Teachers Los Angeles, also had deep roots in the CTA. She also has been a professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge for many years. If elected, she would have been the first member of the California Faculty Association to be president of the CTA.

The loss of the faculty members was partially offset by a rise in membership of K-12 teachers following recruitment drives by the union after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the controversial Janus vs. AFSCME case in June 2018. The court ruled that public employees could not be required to pay so-called “agency fees,” which cover a union’s collective bargaining and representation costs. Previously employees were expected to pay the fees even if they opted out of being union members.

There has been considerable speculation that the membership of the CTA would decline in the wake of the Janus ruling, because there would be less reason for public employees to belong to a union if they could still benefit from union bargaining without paying any fees. Backers of the Janus lawsuit certainly hoped that would be the case and reached out to teachers to convince them to leave the union.

But nationally teachers unions and other public employee unions have stepped up their recruitment efforts and the losses of membership have not been as severe as some had predicted.

Earlier this year, CTA officials indicated that any expected loss of CSU faculty membership would be offset by an increase in dues-paying K-12 teachers on its membership rolls. It appears that the number of K-12 teachers belonging to the CTA has increased, but it has only partially made up for the loss of CSU faculty and staff.

However, the loss in CSU faculty and staff membership may not have much of an impact on the CTA’s finances — and by extension its ability to represent its existing teachers — or on its political clout in the state as a whole. That’s because affiliate members pay only a fraction of their dues to the CTA. In the case of the CSU faculty, most of their dues went to the California Faculty Association, not the CTA.

In another leadership change, Joe Nuñez, the CTA’s executive director, responsible for the day-to-day running of the union, was abruptly fired in July. Earlier this month, Joe Boyd (no relation to CTA president Toby Boyd) was named the organization’s new executive director. Joe Boyd had previously been the executive director of the California Federation of Teachers, which represents not only teachers but faculty and staff at the California Community Colleges. Before that he had been a longtime CTA staffer, last serving as executive director of the Teachers Association of Long Beach.

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  1. CarolineSF 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    The forces trying to persuade teachers to leave their unions are aggressive and powerful. Teachers report getting emails and flyers in the U.S. mail – where are those operations getting the addresses? And I marched with striking Chicago teachers while visiting there last week, and posted pictures on Facebook and immediately started getting Facebook ads urging me to leave my union (I’m not a teacher, and the union I belong to isn’t a teachers’ union).

  2. John Steele 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    They’re trying to cover up the fact that Supreme Court said that they do not have to belong to unions anymore. Oregon has lost 22 percent of its members since then.