West Virginia Professional Educators (WVPE)
David Gladkosky, Executive Director
PO Box 278
Hometown, WV 25109
WVPE grew out of disillusionment over the NEA union activity in the late 1970’s. At the time, all of WVPE’s founders, Ernie, Alma, Elizabeth Mow, Jean Hinkle, Florena Colvin, were members of the West VA Education Association.
The turning point came when Ernie had recently been removed from his job as Executive Secretary of West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) because of his resistance to its drift toward forced unionism. Union agents from Washington DC had been sent in to turn West Virginia Education Association employees into a group union organizers.
Ernie struggled with the political maneuvering of those who came for the takeover and sacrificed health and family, spending hours and hours traveling the state talking to teachers about this turn toward union monopoly power and militant unionism.
To protect his professional integrity, Ernie sued WVEA and won, although it was a long and costly struggle.
Shortly thereafter a small group decided to break away from WVEA and form our own organization. The turmoil brought by these organizers led to a decision to establish a PROFESSIONAL organization, because “A Child’s Mind is Too Precious to Bargain For.”
With Ernie as leader, about 30 teachers donated many hours and much effort to that cause. They were all unaware at the time that similar organizations were being formed in other states, but eventually learned about CEAFU and have been affiliated ever since.
WVPE’s membership now numbers over 1,000, growing steadily as WVEA has lost membership.
It has not been an easy road to follow, but with their deep abiding Christian faith, Ernie and Alma overcame adversity as the Executive Directors of WVPE, and have prevailed.
In 1994 their home burned to the ground, including 2 cars. It was probably caused by a copy machine Ernie used for WVPE business. Not long after Ernie was in a serious car accident which injured him and totaled his van. Their daughter, Leigh Anne, who had lost all of her possessions in the fire, herself had a car wreck.
Shortly after this setback, Ernie went in to the hospital for what was to be a triple by-pass operation, which turned into a quintuple bypass and aortic valve replacement. The doctors weren’t sure Ernie would make it through the night, but Alma sat with friend Jean in a prayerful vigil throughout the night. Even an ailing heart and accident couldn’t silence Ernie because Alma was by his side with her loving care and concern. While Ernie was recuperating, Alma picked up the torch and coordinated the business of the West Virginia Professional Educators.
Each summer Ernie and Alma worked tirelessly on membership promotion mailings, attend State Department of Education meeting sand legislative interim meetings, handling ALL the “nuts and bolts” so vital to making an organization run smoothly.