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Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union's House of Delegates voted to suspend the strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)  

Union boss who led Chicago teachers strike faces leadership challenge

Karen Lewis, the tough-talking boss of the Chicago teachers union who led the strike last September that derailed many of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education reform plans, will face a leadership challenge in May.

Some members of the Chicago Teachers Union are dissatisfied with Lewis’s leadership. They think she should have won more concessions from the city.

We struck, we fought, we gave Karen Lewis all the power she needed, but she didn’t deliver at the bargaining table,” said Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, a school counselor who plans to run for CTU president, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

As a result of the strike, Lewis was able to win teacher salary increases of 17.6 percent over the next four years. The compromise also gutted Emanuel’s proposal to tie teacher evaluations to students’ performances, and kept in place benefits and job protection for teachers with seniority.

Emanuel came away with his sought-after extension of the school day. He also turned the situation into an opportunity to push for school choice reforms.

Lewis wasn’t entirely happy with the deal and called it an “austerity contract.”

Evidently, some teachers agree with her. Saunders-Wolffe will run as part of a slate of candidates opposing Lewis’s leadership.

Lewis previously faced criticism for joking about the underclass murdering rich people. (RELATED: Why did teachers union chief mention killing the wealthy?)

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