CHICAGO (CBS) — As Chicago teachers walked the picket lines for a fifth day, a U.S. senator called the teachers “thugs.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made is remarks while speaking Friday at the Values Voter Form in Washington, D.C.

“You know, we have had a lot of bad news this week,” DeMint said. “On my way over I was reading another story about a distant place where thugs had put 400,000 children out in the streets and then I realized that was a story about the Chicago teachers strike.

“But we have got to think about good things. Good things could happen.”

Nearly, 30,000 teachers are represented by the union, which walked off the job on Monday in a dispute over teacher evaluations and job security. They have been offered a 16 percent pay raise over four years and both sides say they are close to an agreement on compensation.

“I dont think teachers view themselves as thugs,” said teachers’ union attorney Robert Bloch. “I don’t think the public views them as thugs. They’re educated people.”

Thousands of teachers marched down Michigan Avenue during rush hour on Thursday. One sign said: “Hey Rahmfather, where is the contract offer we can’t refuse?”