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NWWNC member criticized for anti-strike social media posts

Pictured is the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, where Andrew Lewis serves as a general resident stakeholder. Lewis is currently facing backlash for an anti-union tweet he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin staff)

By Matthew Royer

Aug. 8, 2023 1:10 p.m.

Andrew Lewis, a North Westwood Neighborhood Council general resident stakeholder, is facing backlash from pro-union organizations after a series of posts he made on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

On Friday afternoon, Lewis, who previously served as vice president of the council, made a post that expressed displeasure with the strike held by UNITE HERE Local 11, a union consisting of hotel and hospitality employees. Workers, who began striking in July in Los Angeles, are campaigning for an increase in wages, better working conditions and improved benefits, with the goal of being able to afford housing near their place of work.

[Related: Hotel workers march across LA in ongoing strike for increased wages, benefits]

“I’m crossing the picket line to have a drink in Beverly Hills this weekend,” Lewis said in one post. “Sue me.”

Later that evening, he posted again on the platform, asking his followers whether he should patronize hotels during the strike. He then posted that he would patronize the hotels anyway, despite early results of the poll being overwhelmingly in favor of the striking workers.

Lewis reiterated his opinion Saturday morning when he posted to X again about his disdain for the strike.

“Maybe Workers can Strike so it’s not so impactful on the general public,” Lewis said in the post.

He later deleted the post altogether, along with his Friday posts.

The UNITE HERE Local 11 strike affects everyone in LA, as workers are fighting for the right to live in the city they work in, said Victor Narro, a UCLA Labor Center project director.

Narro, who also serves as labor studies and law core faculty, added that it defeats the purpose of the strike if people choose to cross the picket line.

“If you don’t support that one fight of a particular union fighting for that, you, in essence, are hurting many of us,” Narro said. “When they are on strike, then we have to back them up. … We must never endorse the concept of crossing the picket line.”

The posts caught the attention of pro-labor activists on X, including the AFL-CIO, which responded to Lewis’ post.

“This isn’t the take you think it is, Andrew,” the AFL-CIO said in the post. “Shameful behavior from a board member of @LAYoungDems and @SFVYoungDems.”

The two accounts tagged in the AFL-CIO post – the official social media representation of the LA County Young Democrats and the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats – are two organizations Lewis had claimed to serve on the boards of, according to the biography section of his X profile until Sunday.

On Saturday, both organizations posted on X disavowing the statements made by Lewis and denied that he currently served on any of their boards.

Lewis served in positions for the SFVYD before being removed from the board in 2020, SFVYD President Mayra Valadez said.

Valadez, who served with Lewis on the board when he was a member, added that Lewis created frustration for the group and created conflict – spanning back to 2020 – driven by his posts on Twitter, which partially led to his removal.

“It wasn’t fortunate to get mentioned on Twitter by progressives, leaders and elected officials that we really admire,” Valadez said. “It was an opportunity for us to, I think, double down alongside LACYD on our shared commitment to support labor and working people.”

Valadez said that she will now look for the group to create a labor representative for the board to advance a pro-labor message in the future.

LACYD executive board member Furkan Yalcin – who served on the NWWNC from 2018 to 2022 – said he was disappointed in Lewis’ statements and that, as a Democrat, he believes the goal is to uplift unions, not to work against them.

“Unions are the lifeblood of the city,” Yalcin said. “It’s important that we support them and stand with the workers in solidarity in this time when they’re striking.”

Yalcin added that Lewis had not served on the LACYD board for the past three years – as long Yalcin had been involved with the organization – and said members of the group also requested Lewis to remove his affiliation with the board from his social media accounts on multiple occasions.

On Sunday night, Lewis adjusted his bio on X to say that he formerly served on the boards in question.

NWWNC Vice Chair Marcello Robinson – who won the position in a coin flip against Lewis at the council’s July meeting – said in an emailed statement that Lewis’ post did not represent the opinion of the council.

[Related: North Westwood Neighborhood Council recap – July 19]

“Andrew Lewis’s views and opinions expressed on his personal social media accounts are his own right and not the opinion of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council,” Robinson said in the statement. “Board members are elected public officials and have a right to use their personal media accounts as they see fit.”

Lewis did not respond to a request to comment.

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Matthew Royer | News and Sports senior staff
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
Royer is a senior staff reporter for the News and Sports sections of the Bruin. He was previously the 2022-2023 assistant News editor for the city and crime beat.
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