The head of the American Federation of Teachers says the national union is ready to spend $1 million to help Karen Lewis unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel if the Chicago Teachers Union president decides to run.
“I did say privately to Karen and at our executive council meeting that if Karen was to run, we would be all in,” AFT leader Randi Weingarten told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview Tuesday. “In a race like this, spending $1 million would not be unprecedented for the AFT.”
Weingarten said Emanuel “has shown a deep disrespect for what public education is all about.”
She compared the Chicago mayoral race to the recent election in New York City, in which organized labor helped Bill de Blasio capture the mayor’s office. In New York, Chicago and many other cities, Democrats have split sharply over education issues including teacher tenure, pensions and privately run, publicly funded charter schools.
“Look, Rahm is a particular kind of Democrat, but there are lots of Democrats who want to invest in public schools,” Weingarten said. “To run now takes a great amount of money, and too many Democrats are focused on what rich donors are saying, not what the working people are saying. I would have never called Rahm a friend of working people, not even 20 years ago.”