Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has announced that she won a second term in Friday’s election, garnering 80 percent of the votes in preliminary results.
The election was a referendum on how well Lewis’ leadership and the Caucus of Rank and File Educators handled the fall’s teacher strike and contract negotiations.
The opposition caucus, Coalition to Save Our Union, charged that Lewis put style and big-picture promises over substance and results.
But many teachers said that Lewis’ leadership during the strike, when she went head-to-head with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, proved decisive in their decisions to vote for her.
“You need a force like Karen Lewis to get in the face of the mayor,” said Emily Rosenberg, director of DePaul University’s Labor Education Center and a supporter of Lewis. “She can’t be bullied.”
As the union’s biggest battle yet over school closings drags on, Rosenberg says the election “gives a signal to the whole city that (teachers are) solidly behind her, and that there’s going to be a struggle.”