CTU presidential candidate says Karen Lewis has failed - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Candidate for CTU president says Karen Lewis has failed

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Karen Lewis has been talking for months about defeating Rahm Emanuel at the next mayoral election, but first she's fighting to keep her own job as president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

The election for CTU president is this Friday. Challenger Tanya Saunders-Wolffe claims that a document just given to the rank and file will propel her to victory.

It's the contract ratified by Chicago teachers after their 7-day strike way back in September. With copies just delivered to most teachers, critics of the current leadership claim there's anger over a big reduction in sick days and that laid-off teachers now get only a half-year of pay, not the previous full year.

"We're working a longer school year and a longer school day," Saunders-Wolffe says. "And our pay raise did not account for that. So, when you average it out, we are making less money than we did a year ago."

Despite that the typical teacher's paycheck will jump about 17% over the life of the new 3-year contract--in part because of step and lane increases--Tanya Saunders-Wolffe insisted the deal could have been even better, had her opponent union President Karen Lewis, not engaged in ugly name-calling, such as labeling Mayor Emanuel a "murderer" and a "racist."

"It became personal for her, between her and the mayor. And I think the teachers have suffered," Saunders-Wolffe says.

There was more of it Monday, at Mayo Elementary, one of 54 Chicago schools proposed for closing. The union president nodded approvingly.

"The closing of this school reminds me of slaver," Maureen Forte said. "Black kids, black people, they were tortured if they were caught reading and learning."

Lewis later rejected her challenger's claim that toxic relations with Mayor Emanuel are her fault.

"I will tell you that I doubt that she would fare any better," Lewis says of Saunders-Wolffe.

Many might prefer fewer fiery insults, whoever wins this internal union election. Challenger Tanya Saunders Wolfe has taught for 24 years at a South Side school on the proposed closing list. Reduced benefits for laid-off teachers could hit her personally.

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