Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, will endorse Elizabeth Warren on Saturday night at a rally in Houston.
In a blog post explaining her decision, Weingarten praised the Massachusetts senator for presenting a “bold agenda” and said Warren has “the wherewithal to work with others to turn her ideas into reality.”
“That’s why today I am announcing my personal support for our champion, my friend, former teacher and professor — Sen. Elizabeth Warren,” Weingarten wrote. “I will vote for her in the New York primary on April 28.”
The union leader delivered her backing in a personal capacity, a break for now from the AFT’s official position. The union remains mostly neutral as its formal endorsement process continues. A resolution passed last week encourages union affiliates, members and leadership to support any, or all, of Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. The AFT represents 1.7 million members from more than 3,000 affiliates.
Weingarten’s decision to endorse days before Super Tuesday is another boost for Warren, who also now enjoys the support of a super PAC, which has put significant resources behind a campaign that was facing a cash crunch earlier this month.
The 2020 primary has seen a fierce fight for the support of teachers and their increasingly powerful unions. Sanders’ victory in Nevada was powered in part by the backing of the country’s largest independent teachers union, the Clark County Education Association. Teachers’ unions across the country launched a series of strikes in 2018 and 2019 as part of a broader backlash over stagnant pay and, in certain states, cuts in funding to public schools.
Weingarten’s announcement came a day after the president of the California Federation of Teachers and AFT vice president Jeff Freitas said in a blog post that he would do the same. The AFT’s second-ranking official, secretary-treasurer Lorretta Johnson, also made her decision public on Friday, announcing that she would endorse Biden.
Weingarten’s plans were first reported by HuffPost.
The AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton in both 2008 and 2016, the two most recent contested Democratic primaries. In 2020, the AFT has so far decided against lining up behind one candidate, though its local and state groups have been quicker to action. The AFT Massachusetts and Boston Teachers Union endorsed Warren in January.
The United Teachers of Los Angeles, which is affiliated with the AFT, backed Sanders in November. AFT Local 1931, which is based in San Diego, has also endorsed the Vermont senator, as has the state’s AFT chapter.