The Modesto Teachers Association (MTA) scheduled a vote today on whether the 1,500-member local would remain affiliated with the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association. The state union was not pleased, but seemed resigned to the vote taking place. CTA president Dean Vogel toured the district, urging members to remain in the fold, and even was given a forum to address the local’s representatives.

But at some point the CTA board of directors decided that Modesto’s plan to abide by the will of the voting majority, instead of two-thirds of the entire bargaining unit, made the election “unlawful.” Last night the board voted to place the local under state trusteeship, and sent two trustees after business hours to take control of its offices and bank accounts.

But the MTA officers were prepared. They called the police. The Modesto Bee reports:

“All they have is a scrap of paper saying they’ve imposed trusteeship,” said Rafael Ruano of the law firm Goyette and Associates Inc. of Gold River, who said he was speaking for MTA leadership. “They took an internal CTA vote and said, ‘We’re taking over MTA,’ and there’s no legal basis for them to do it.”

In a phone call Monday night, Ruano said the state group’s efforts to seize control of MTA bank accounts and property were unsuccessful, and that a court order would have been required to take such actions.

Three thousand miles away, another attempt to seize an NEA local with thoughts of disaffiliation was reversed by a Maryland circuit court judge. The elected officers of the Wicomico County Education Association were restored to their positions after a group of members took control of the union offices, web site and bank accounts.

Neither case involves disbanding of the union, only an end to affiliation with the state and national teachers’ union. And in both cases, the wishes of the members were denied before they were even expressed.