Randi Weingarten (born December 18, 1957) is a American labor leader, attorney, and educator, and is the current president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), AFL-CIO. New York magazine called her one of the most influential people in education in New York state. Crain's New York Business, an influential business publication, called her one of the 25 most powerful women in New York City business.
Weingarten was born in 1957 in New York City to Gabriel and Edith (Appelbaum) Weingarten. Her father was an electrical engineer and her mother a teacher. Weingarten, who is of Jewish descent, grew up in Rockland County, New York, and attended Clarkstown High School South ]]).
Weingarten cites two events from her childhood which helped define her lifelong interest in trade unions and political advocacy. The first was when her mother's union went on strike when Weingarten was in the eleventh grade. The strike lasted roughly seven weeks. Under New York state's Taylor Law, her mother could have been fired for exercising her right to strike. Instead, she was fined two days' pay for every day she was on strike. Weingarten's father was out of work at the time, and the family suffered through some extremely difficult financial times. The second incident occurred later that same year. The school board cut $2 million from the budget, which (among other things) would have led to the dismissal of the drivers' education instructor. Weingarten and several other students convinced the school board to let them conduct a survey regarding the impact of the cuts. The survey led several school board members to change their minds, and rescind the cuts.