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Former labor leader fills vacant U.S. Senate seat

Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom named former labor leader Laphonza Butler to fill Diane Feinstein’s vacant U.S. Senate seat. Butler was officially sworn in on Tuesday. 

Butler has a long history of union involvement and leadership. She built her career as a union organizer, working with nurses, janitors, and hospital workers on the East Coast and later in California where she organized caregivers with SEIU. She later served as the president of SEIU Local 2015 and was elected as California SEIU State Council in 2013.  
Butler has been involved in political consulting for years and was known to have helped Kamala Harris win an endorsement from SEIU during her run for attorney general in California. She also advised Uber on labor organizing while working for a political consulting firm, SCRB Strategies, before she joined Airbnb as their director of public policy and campaigns in North America in 2020.  
In 2021, Butler became president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee that works to elect Democratic female candidates in favor of abortion rights. 
Questions have been raised about Bulter’s eligibility for the seat representing California because she has lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, since September 2021.  
“Butler is a longtime California resident and homeowner,” said Izzy Gardon, deputy director of communications for Newsom’s office. “She moved to the D.C. area when she became president of EMILY’s List. Butler will re-register here before being sworn in.” 

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.