FELDMAN, SANDRA


FELDMAN, SANDRA (1939–2005), U.S. teacher, trade union activist, and labor union executive. Born in New York City to Milton and Frances Abramowitz, Feldman earned an M.A. degree in English literature from New York University. Active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, she also taught elementary school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In 1966 Feldman became a full-time field representative for New York City's United Federation of Teachers. She worked her way through the ranks following in the footsteps of her mentor, Albert *Shanker. In 1986, she became the first woman president of the largest local union in the United States. She served until 1997, when on May 6, the national American Federation of Teacher's executive council unanimously elected her the 15th president of the national organization. In the same month, she was also elected a vice president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

As a public school educator, Feldman devoted herself to improving the working conditions of teachers, promoting higher educational standards for students, and strengthening curricula in the schools. During her tenure as president of the American Federation of Teachers, the organization experienced record growth, representing more than one million educators, healthcare professionals, public employees, and retirees. Feldman's second husband was Arthur Barnes, former president of the New York Urban Coalition.

Feldman supported the rights and concerns of children, women, and workers on local, national, and global levels through her association with the Council on Competitiveness, the International Rescue Committee, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Coalition of Labor Women, the New York Urban League, Women's Forum, Women's Committee on Refugee Children, Child Labor Coalition, the United States Committee for UNICEF, and the National Council of Americans to Prevent Handgun Violence.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

R. Holub. "Feldman, Sandra," in: P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (1997), 404–5; "Feldman, Sandra," in: Who's Who in America 2004, vol. 1, 1568–69. WEBSITE: www.aft.org.

[Peggy K. Pearlstein (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.