May 21, 2015
ALBANY, N.Y. May 21, 2015 — New York State United Teachers today celebrated the posthumous induction of former UFT and AFT President Sandra Feldman into Labor’s International Hall of Fame.
“Sandy Feldman was an impassioned advocate for public education who artfully balanced being a powerful fighter for her members with being a diplomatic politician who understood that sometimes compromise was better than confrontation,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “As a woman in what was then and, in many ways, still is a male-dominated world, Sandy was a pioneer and role model who blazed the trail that made it possible for labor leaders like me to win statewide office. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this great honor.”
Feldman served as president of NYSUT’s largest local affiliate, New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, from 1986 to 1997. She later was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers after the death of Albert Shanker and served as AFT president from 1997 to 2004. She died after a courageous battle with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 65.
As AFT president, Feldman worked with Congress and the Bush administration to shape the education law known as No Child Left Behind but later assailed the president when she thought he was not adequately funding efforts to support NCLB’s higher standards. She also put the UFT’s power behind David Dinkins and helped to elect him mayor in 1989. Feldman later negotiated a plan that helped save the jobs of 4,000 paraprofessionals.
In her obituary, The New York Times called Feldman “a scrappy fighter who rarely minced words,” and a strong leader who “took on mayors, school chancellors and American presidents with the same inattention to ceremony.”
NYSUT annually awards the “Not for Ourselves Alone: The Sandy Feldman Outstanding Leadership Award” to women who have provided throughout their careers significant service and leadership to their local and state affiliates, as well as to the labor movement. The 2015 honorees are Carmen Alvarez of the United Federation of Teachers and Sheila Goldberg of the Plainedge Federation of Teachers. The union also awards a grant to an active teacher in honor of Feldman. This year’s winner is Mary Wills from Ogdensburg.
Feldman will be inducted along with Teamster leader Daniel Tobin during a reception Thursday at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ headquarters in Washington, D.C.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.