Sandra Feldman, a nationally recognized labor activist as president of the American Federation of Teachers, was a native New Yorker whose union involvement began as a United Federation of Teachers chapter leader at PS 34 in Manhattan. In 1966, she joined the UFT staff as a field representative, working with the legendary UFT and AFT leader Al Shanker.
Feldman and Jeannette DiLorenzo at an AFT function.
Feldman was also active in the United Teachers of New York, the statewide union representing most downstate locals. As UTNY vice president, Feldman was a pioneer in the merger creating New York State United Teachers in 1972. After holding various positions in the UFT, including executive director and secretary, Feldman was elected president of the 130,000-member union in 1986. Her leadership for more than a decade resulted in significant gains for the UFT, including successful crusades to improve deplorable building conditions and improve working conditions for members.
United Federation of Teachers President Al Shanker leads 40,000 teachers and paraprofessionals across the Brooklyn Bridge in 1975. Feldman, at right, succeeded Shanker as president of the UFT and the AFT.
In 1997, Feldman was elected the first female president of the AFT since 1930. In that position, she has achieved national stature as an eloquent and passionate leader on educational and labor issues. In Sept. 2005 Feldman lost her courageous battle against breast cancer. "Our memory of Sandy Feldman will be that of a fighter who lived a life marked by strength, grace and dignity, " said NYSUT president Richard C. Iannuzzi. "She was loved. She will be missed."
Feldman at a NYSUT convention.