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Karen Lewis re-elected as head of Chicago Teachers Union for three more years

May 21, 2013 by

CHICAGO – There’s good news and bad news for Chicago residents.

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The good news is that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis retained her seat against a more militant challenger in the union’s recent elections. The union hasn’t released the final tally, but preliminary results show Lewis beat challenger Tanya Saunders-Wolffe for a second three year term, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The bad news is Lewis will lead the Chicago Teachers Union for three more years.

Lewis helped spawn one of the nation’s largest and ugliest teacher strikes last year and has campaigned heavily to prevent the closure of the city’s half-empty public school buildings. She leads a faction of the CTU called the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), which took control of the union in 2010.

Lewis’ caucus also retained other seats, including a win by CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey, when teachers voted in the union election last Friday, the Tribune reports.

Lewis has no doubt been a boil on the backside of city school officials during her tenure, but the recent union election results could have been worse. Saunders-Wolffe leads the Coalition to Save our Union caucus, which consists members from “former CTU President Marilyn Stewart’s United Progressive Caucus; the Pro Active Chicago Teachers Caucus, which led the CTU until 2004; and independent union members,” the Tribune reports.

What’s amazing is the challengers believe Lewis hasn’t been radical enough. They say teachers haven’t received big enough raises, and claim “Lewis ‘didn’t deliver at the bargaining table’ with issues surrounding teacher seniority and teacher evaluations,” according to the Tribune.

The more radical CTU faction also believes Lewis has done enough to stop a plan by Chicago Public Schools officials to close 53 elementary schools and a high school program to use resources more efficiently. Their concern, of course, is union jobs that could be lost in the closings.

So far, Lewis has filed two federal lawsuits, and has held marches and rallies ad nauseam in an attempt to halt the closures.

In other words, the challengers in last week’s CTU election were even more radical than the union’s current leadership, which is saying a lot.

While we believe Chicago’s unionized teachers were basically given a choice between bad and worse union leadership, it appears they at least picked the lesser of two evils.

Karen Lewis re-elected as head of Chicago Teachers Union for three more years – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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