Teacher, Unionist, President , American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO,About This Expert
Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. The AFT champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities. The AFT and its members advance these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through members’ work.
Prior to her election as AFT president in 2008, Randi served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education. In 2013, the New York Observer named Randi one of the most influential New Yorkers of the past 25 years. Washington Life magazine included Randi on its 2013 Power 100 list of influential leaders.
Under Randi’s leadership, the AFT continues to grow and expand its voice as a union of professionals. In 2013, the National Federation of Nurses, representing 34,000 nurses, voted to affiliate, making the AFT the second-largest union of nurses in the country. The AFT has also expanded its higher education and public employee membership as well as building strength in the South and Southwest.
In 2012-13, Randi served on an education reform commission convened by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which made a series of recommendations to improve teaching and learning. She was appointed to the Equity and Excellence Commission, a federal advisory committee chartered by Congress to examine and make recommendations concerning the disparities in educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap.
For 10 years, while president of the UFT, Randi chaired New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization for the city’s 100-plus public sector unions, including those representing higher education and other public service employees. As chair of the MLC, she coordinated labor negotiations and bargaining for benefits on behalf of the MLC unions’ 365,000 members.
From 1986 to 1998, Randi served as counsel to UFT president Sandra Feldman, taking a lead role in contract negotiations and enforcement, and in lawsuits in which the union fought for adequate school funding and building conditions. A teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood from 1991 to 1997, Randi helped her students win several state and national awards debating constitutional issues.
Elected as the local union’s assistant secretary in 1995 and as treasurer two years later, she became UFT president after Feldman became president of the AFT. Randi was elected to her first full term as UFT president in 1998 and was re-elected three times.
Randi’s column “What Matters Most” appears in the New York Times’ Sunday Review the third Sunday of each month.
Randi holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She worked as a lawyer for the Wall Street firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1983 to 1986. She is an active member of the Democratic National Committee and numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations. Born in 1957 and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., Randi now resides on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.
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