By Kyle Olson
CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union is not just about looking out for its members’ interests. The union wants to fundamentally change America, too.
That shift occurred when the radical Karen Lewis was elected as its president two years ago. She’s best known for mocking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s lisp and for taking on – and defeating – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the district’s first teachers’ strike in a generation.
CTU leaders have been on a victory lap of sorts since the September strike, with union activists seeing themselves as protectors of union power during a time of membership decline and education reform at the state and local level.
They’ve also taken on the role of social activities, fighting for causes like the Occupy movement and gay marriage, which have nothing to do with education.
Some union leaders have called for violence and other radical tactics to achieve social goals.
When Lewis appeared at the Illinois Labor History Society’s “Salute to Labor’s Historic Heroes from the History Makers of Today,” she didn’t disappoint the crowd. She threw gasoline onto the fire of class warfare, and even mentioned mob killings of wealthy Americans.
“… Do not think for a minute that the wealthy are ever going to allow you to legislate their riches away from them. Please understand that. However, we are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages. The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just – off with their heads. They were seriously talking about that.”
Some in the audience laughed and clapped at her remark.
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“I don’t think we’re at that point,” Lewis laughingly replied, without specifying when “that point” might arrive. “And that’s scary to most people. But the key is they think nothing of killing us. They think nothing of putting our people in harm’s way. They think nothing of lethal working conditions.”
She then used schools without air conditioning as an example of “lethal working conditions.”
The true labor leaders of the “robber baron” age would probably roll over in their graves and remind Ms. Lewis that she and her colleagues have it quite good.
Big salaries with an average income in the $70,000 range. Generous benefits and pensions. Limited work days and nine-month work years. What are these people complaining about?
Lewis also used the occasion to mock “job creators.”
“Which side are you going to be on? So are we going to be on the side of justice? Are we going to be on the side of a living wage for every person? Or are we going to be on the side of people whose entire mentality is based on a lie. ‘Job creators.’ Really? Then why have we lost so many jobs?”
With such a cynical, un-American attitude coming from their union president, does anyone really expect Chicago teachers to introduce students to the many virtues of the free market system, or the nobility of taking a risk to become an entrepreneur and therefore a “job creator”?
As domestic terrorist-turned-professor Bill Ayers acknowledged, leftists have the power in our schools and classrooms, and they’re taking full advantage.
The Chicago Teachers Union is the tip of the spear in terms of “social justice unionism.” It’s a union led by far-left radical activists who are determined to alter American society through our schools and children. Advocating for the interests of teachers is simply a means toward a larger and nastier goal.