CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was drawing fire Tuesday over comments made in a speech last month, after a YouTube video surfaced of her jokingly saying “off with their heads” about the wealthy.
Lewis was speaking to the lllinois Labor History Society on Dec. 2 when she said “we are in a moment when 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 ready, it was like ‘off with their heads!’ They were seriously talking about that.”
The joke drew some laughs, and Lewis continued: “I don’t think we’re at that point. 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.”
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in a written statement, “This kind of rhetoric has no place in the work that must be done to address the issues facing our District.”
In its ongoing campaign against adding more charter schools in Chicago, the teachers union has been attacking the wealthy for pushing for charter school expansion, while the district considers closing many traditional public schools that are underutilized.