Weingarten resigns from NYC teachers union
NEW YORK—The president of the nation's largest teachers union announced Wednesday that she is resigning from her other job as head of New York's United Federation of Teachers.
Randi Weingarten, who led the New York teachers union since 1998, was elected president of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers last July.
The 51-year-old labor leader said recently that it's no secret the two jobs were weighing on her. But until Wednesday, she would not confirm her intention to step down, despite rumors circulating since last week.
Effective July 31, Weingarten will devote her full time to the organization that is the most prominent national advocate for teachers, often dealing with Congress and the White House.
On Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Weingarten "has been a big part of many of the reforms we have implemented over the past seven years -- and a big part of the incredible turnaround our schools have made."
Repeatedly re-elected to the union presidency by wide margins, Weingarten fought to increase teacher salaries and improve training. In 2007, she negotiated a contract that gave teachers bonuses if student test scores rose.
She also has advocated smaller class sizes, linked to rebuilding and repairing schools.
As head of the 200,000-member UFT, Weingarten "has been a tireless advocate for public education in New York," said New York Gov. David Paterson, who called her "an innovative leader, a no-nonsense reformer, a tough negotiator."
A graduate of Cornell University and Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, she taught history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn from 1991 to 1997.
Weingarten then became president of the union that represents active and retired members including teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses.
The union's executive board will select someone to fill out the remainder of her term until elections are held next spring.
Weingarten also is a vice president of the national AFL-CIO, and has served as chairwoman of the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York and head of the Municipal Labor Committee that represents about 365,000 unionized New York employees.
"When it comes to labor leaders, Randi is the gold standard," said Denis Hughes, president of the New York State AFL-CIO. "She knows how to bring people together, forge consensus and most importantly, get things done."