CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Longtime Kanawha County classroom teacher Fred Albert is on the verge of becoming the next president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia.
The union’s constitutional convention begins in earnest Friday at Embassy Suites in Charleston with nominations for union leaders set for Saturday morning. Albert could be sworn-in to a three-year term by noon.
“I do look forward to working for our members,” Albert told MetroNews. “I’m excited about what the future holds.”
Six-year AFT-WV President Christine Campbell announced last month that she would not seek reelection. She has said she wants to spend more time on getting more subject-qualified teachers into the state’s classrooms.
Albert, 67, has a slate of candidates. Fayette County AFT President Tega Toney will be running for vice president, Angie Turkelson, the AFT president in Putnam County for secretary while Monongalia County AFT President Sam Brunett will seek the union’s position of state treasurer.
Albert said there will also be 13 executive board members-at-large elected. He said many of them have been in those positions.
There could be others nominated for president or other positions from the floor during Saturday’s meeting but Albert said he hasn’t heard of any other candidates.
According to Albert, the union’s rank-and-file has a lot of energy coming from the Feb/March work stoppage and the recently completed election cycle.
“West Virginia has been made known throughout the world with our work stoppage and we want to keep that enthusiasm and that engagement from our members moving forward,” Albert said.
Gov. Jim Justice has announced plans for another five percent teacher pay raise next year and a $100 million allocation to help with a permanent solution for the Public Employees Insurance Agency. Albert finds both proposals “interesting.”
“I find it, of course, positive if we are going to get a five percent pay raise and if we’re going to have PEIA fixed for our members–I think that is positive. We’ll see how it goes but we are ready for the legislative session to get started,” he said.
Albert said he wants a leadership team that has its members at the top of the list. He said he will work for those members.
“We want to secure their jobs. We want to secure their healthcare, make our schools better for our students and our teachers and our service personnel. It is encouraging. It’s positive and it can only go up,” Albert said.
Albert is a 29-year educator. The last 20 years he’s taught math at DuPont Middle School. He has been the Kanawha County AFT president for last 15 years.
“We’ve got some good things happening and we’re excited about it. I’ve got a great team in line to lead this union and we’re just ready to hit the ground and go forward,” Albert said.
The convention began Thursday night with a reception. The AFT-WV has approximately 14,000 members statewide.