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   Leftist teachers’ union rapidly losing members
   3860    2009-02-27
Source : Joongang Daily

February 27, 2009

For the past five years, the left-leaning Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU) has been hemorrhaging members.

In 2003, membership peaked at 93,860, but that number has been plummeting by the thousands every year. According to union data, total membership had fallen to 77,798 as of December, a 4,815 drop from the year before.

The statistics were compiled before the union’s national council meeting scheduled for today and tomorrow in Asan, South Chungcheong.

The group counts 11,539 members in Seoul, 10,123 in Gyeonggi Province, 8,241 in South Gyeongsang Province and 7,433 in South Jeolla Province. It lost members in most regions last year, including 874 in Seoul.

The union had 20,000 members in 1999 when it was legalized by the Kim Dae-jung administration.

The declining membership is partly attributed to the union’s excessive involvement in political affairs and clashes with the government. It opposed the annual national academic assessment test, crying widening educational disparity. It also rejected the planned adoption of a teacher evaluation system.

A high school teacher identified as Kim, 36, recently decided to leave.

“I decided to withdraw my membership because the union seems to care more about politics than our welfare,” Kim said.

The union’s conduct was called into question recently when it was accused of pressuring a female member not to go public about a sexual assault against her by a union official. Last December, she reported being assaulted by an official of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, of which the teachers’ union is a member.

By Limb Jae-un Staff Reporter/ Jung Hyun-mok JoongAng Ilbo

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