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Lightfoot won’t punish Ald. Garza for profanity at teachers union rally and seemingly advocating strike

The mayor said Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), a former school counselor and area vice president south for the CTU, has ties to the union that are, understandably, “very strong.”

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) speaks during a Chicago Board of Education meeting at Chicago Public Schools headquarters last year.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) speaks during a Chicago Board of Education meeting at Chicago Public Schools headquarters last year.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot stripped 20-year veteran Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) of his committee chairmanship for publicly opposing her choice of Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) as Finance Committee chairman.

But she’s not about to banish Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) from her leadership team for using profanity at a recent Chicago Teachers Union rally starring Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and declaring, “Queen Mother of God, I see people ready to strike.”

“Sue Garza and I have a really good relationship. We talk frequently. We’re very candid with each other. And obviously, she has a connection to CTU that’s very strong. I understand that,” the mayor said of Garza, a former school counselor and area vice president south for CTU.

“What I found with chairman Garza is that she’s a very reasonable person. She has sought and received from us detailed briefings about what’s happening — or not — in the negotiations. And she takes that information into due consideration.”

A provocative video circulated on social media shows Garza stepping to the podium at the raucous rally and promptly using profanity.

“That’s right, mother-f---er!” Garza said, raising her fist in the air, after being introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).

After describing herself as the first CTU member ever to win a City Council seat, Garza shouted, “Queen Mother of God, I see people ready to strike. Right out here.”

The daughter of longtime Steelworkers Union President Edward Sadlowski, Garza went on to introduce Sanders as a man who has “fought to give working people a voice” and “stood in solidarity with ordinary Americans across this county to build a better, a fairer and more just society.”

“He’s never wavered. ... The fact that he’s standing with us today shows his deep commitment to the men and women who need him the most: the working class,” she said.

On Tuesday, Lightfoot was asked to comment on the always-outspoken Garza’s profane choice of words and her decision to seemingly advocate a teachers strike Lightfoot is trying desperately to avoid.

“Chairman Garza is a very spirited person. I’m not gonna get into, should she have used this word, that word or the other. What I know is that my dealings with her are always very cordial and professional,” the mayor said.

Last week, Garza acknowledged she “got carried away” introducing Sanders and probably should not have used profanity.

“It wasn’t appropriate. But I’m not gonna say I regret it. … I was at CTU. That’s my place. That’s my house. That’s where I got my fighting chops. Well, I got my fighting chops from my dad. But, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing,” the alderman said.

“Should I have said it? No. Probably not. But the moment was right. The energy was there. And that’s what came out. ... I don’t have anything to apologize for.”

Garza also made no apologies for exhorting the troops to authorize a strike with potential to become a national embarrassment for Lightfoot.

“I support the teachers. ... When people negotiate, the only thing they have is to withhold their labor. That’s the ultimate thing,” Garza said.

“My allegiance is with the teachers, always. ... I spent 23 years of my life inside a classroom accounting for 894 students and me with no help. Of course I support the teachers. ... I support the mayor as well in this issue. They both have to come to a compromise. If both people leave the table unhappy, then you did something right.”