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 1991–1997 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 the head of the AFT as of 2016. 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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Randi Weingarten." (Viewed on January 25, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/weingarten-randi>.