When she was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers in 2008, Randi Weingarten became the first openly gay leader of an American national labor union. Weingarten earned a BS in labor relations from Cornell University in 1980 and a JD from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law in 1983. In 1986, she became counsel to the president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers, handling legal matters for the union. From 1991 to 1997, she taught high school classes in law, political science, and history while climbing the ladder at the UFT. In 1998 she was elected both as president of the UFT and vice president of the AFT. She finally stepped down from her office at the UFT in 2009 but remains head of the AFT as of 2023. At both organizations, she worked to increase salaries and collective bargaining rights for all school employees, opposed standardized testing and “top down” education reforms that ignore the input of teachers, and advocated for the creation of “community schools” that could serve as hubs for health care, daycare, and job placement. In 2020, Weingarten was a candidate for Secretary of Education in the Biden administration but was not nominated. She was also an elector for the State of New York in the 2020 United States presidential election.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Randi Weingarten." (Viewed on September 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/weingarten-randi>.