Chicago Teachers Union President: ‘Off With Their Heads!’

By Elizabeth Harrington | January 9, 2013 | 12:13pm EST

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Techers' Union. (AP)

( – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said union opponents “think nothing about killing us” and that “wealth disparity” in America today mirrors the 19th century when labor leaders then used to be “ready to kill,” to chop people’s heads off.

“We are at a moment when the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber-baron ages,” Lewis said at the Illinois Labor History Society on Jan. 5.  “The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill — just really, like, off with their heads!”

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“They were seriously talking about that,” she said.

“Well, hold on,” she said to laughter.  “I don’t think we’re at that point.”

“And that’s scary to most people,” Lewis continued.  “But the key is that they think nothing about killing us.”

“They think nothing about putting our people in harm’s way, they think nothing about lethal working conditions,” she said.  “One thing that was interesting to me is that during the strike I cannot tell you how many people came up to me and said, ‘What do you mean the schools are not all air-conditioned?’”

“There is a disconnect,” Lewis said.  “There is a disconnect in our country from how some of us live and how other people live.”

Lewis’s remarks came during the Illinois Labor History Society’s 2012 Union Hall of Honor, where she gave the keynote address.   The Chicago Teachers Union ended a heated 7-day strike in September over teacher evaluations.

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