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Ailing Chicago Union Head Will Step Down

The vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union will temporarily assume charge of the union while its president, Karen Lewis, recovers from a serious illness, the union announced in a short press conference this afternoon. 

Lewis underwent surgery for an unknown condition yesterday; that operation was successful, Vice President Jesse Sharkey said.

The hard-charging Lewis, a former chemistry teacher, took over the CTU reins in an upset in 2010. She repeatedly challenged the policies of mayor Rahm Emanuel, eventually leading her members on a seven-day strike in 2012. And her CTU caucus has pushed back, if not always successfully, against the policies of its parent union at the American Federation of Teachers' last two biennial conventions.

Lewis was exploring the possibility of challenging Emanuel in the city's upcoming mayoral contest. It's unclear whether that remains a possibility at this point.

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