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With tears in her eyes, Weingarten says goodbye to New York

Teachers union president Randi Weingarten made her New York City goodbye official tonight before a standing-room-only audience of union delegates. The group gave her two standing ovations and spontaneous cheers, including one woman who proclaimed, “You’re my hero!”

Weingarten said that her resignation from the United Federation of Teachers presidency will be effective on July 31st.

For roughly one year, Weingarten has been president of both the United Federation of Teachers local union and the national American Federation of Teachers — “even though each job is more than full-time, deserving 24/7 attention,” she said. Citing the need for each union to have its own full-time president, she said she was stepping aside “to ensure a smooth transition for the UFT.”

Weingarten has said that she favors handing the reins of the New York City union to Michael Mulgrew, who now serves as chief operating officer. The union’s executive board will decide who to name interim president in the next month.

In a speech that celebrated the highlights of her presidency, Weingarten emphasized her role as a reformer. “We have not been defensive when so-called reformers wanted to see our profession change,” she said. “Rather than resist change, we have led it.”

Taking the liberties inherent in any grand exit — and one open to reporters — Weingarten took a final swipe at The New York Post, saying the paper’s reporters needed reading comprehension help in order to understand the UFT’s contract with the Green Dot charter school operator. (She said the contract absolutely protects members’ due process rights.)

Toward the end of her speech, as she thanked the delegates for their “fierce debates” and “fidelity to democratic principles,” the audience rose for a standing ovation and cheered for their now-former president.

A few minutes later, she was in tears as she assured her audience that New York “will always be my home.”