Dozens of supporters squeezed into Weegee's Lounge, 3659 W. Armitage Ave., to listen to the fiery union leader speak.
Michelle Klein, 44, a sophomore chemistry teacher at Frederick Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, said Lewis is more involved in the day-to-day lives of students than previous union leaders. She said Lewis helped teachers "find a voice."
"To see a strong woman speak her mind in a field that is 87 percent women — it gives us a voice we can respect," she said.
As 54 CPS schools face closure or consolidation, Lewis called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to raise taxes on the wealthiest Chicagoans to help give kids a better education.
"Kids on the South and West sides, they don't have access to clout, they don't have power," she said, adding, "Closing schools will not balance the budget.
"You have to pay your fair share," she continued, pretending to address Chicago Board of Trade investors and other wealthy residents. "That's a tough decision, but I bet that's not the decision that's going to be made."
School closures would increase class sizes across the city, she said, adding that smaller class sizes and "wraparound" services are the best thing for students.
"Wraparound" services include counseling and direct interventions geared toward kids with troubled home lives, mental illness or other challenges that may impede their ability to succeed in school.
Lewis and her union group, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), are seeking election to another three-year term in the May 17 CTU election.
They took over from the United Progressive Union in 2010, and lead the union through the first strike in 25 years.
Michael Harn, 45, a truck driver who came to show his support, said he thought Lewis and CORE have done a great job over the last three years, and wants to see them come back.
"They ran the most successful strike in 100 years," he said, adding that failing to re-elect Lewis would be like "the Cubs winning the World Series and not bringing the managers back."