Ex-Union Boss Installed as California Senator

As an SEIU boss, Laphonza Butler systematically obstructed workers’ efforts to resign and stop paying exorbitant dues to the local she headed. In Chuck Schumer’s U.S. Senate, she should fit right in!
As an SEIU boss, Laphonza Butler systematically obstructed workers’ efforts to resign and stop paying exorbitant dues to the local she headed. In Chuck Schumer’s U.S. Senate, she should fit right in! (Credit: C-SPAN)

Laphonza Butler Headed SEIU Locals Notorious For Abusing Workers

When veteran California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) passed away September 29 after a long illness, union label Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) held the power, under state law, to appoint her successor, with just a few constitutional constraints on whom he could choose.

Under Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution, the appointee had to be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and “an inhabitant of the state” the new senator would be charged with representing.

Tens of millions of Californians were qualified to be appointed under these three rules, but Mr. Newsom nevertheless decided to select someone who wasn’t – Marylander Laphonza Butler, a former powerful official in the scandal-ridden Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Gavin Newsom’s staff members, if not the governor himself, certainly knew that, as a D.C. Beltway lobbyist residing in the Old Line State, Laphonza Butler was constitutionally ineligible to be designated as a California senator,” commented National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad.

“But they also knew that the Senate Democrat majority caucus headed by New York’s Chuck Schumer doesn’t care a fig about the Constitution.

“On the other hand, every member of this caucus evidently cares passionately about perpetuating Big Labor’s power to throw its political weight around with coerced union dues and fees extracted from workers who would prefer not to be in a union, or never joined in the first place.

“And from that warped perspective, Laphonza Butler was and is, without a doubt, highly qualified to be a senator.” 

Laphonza Butler Was a Key Player in SEIU Schemes to Circumvent High Court Ruling

In 2009, Ms. Butler was a national organizer for the SEIU when union kingpins recruited her to move to California and take over SEIU Local 6434.

This union’s erstwhile boss, Tyrone Freeman, was facing a federal investigation connected to his then-alleged embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from roughly 190,000 homecare workers over whom he wielded monopoly power.

(In October 2013, Mr. Freeman was sentenced to 33 months in prison on somewhat reduced charges for “stealing from his low-income members to finance an expensive lifestyle that included being married to two women at the same time,” as the Los Angeles Times reported.)

At the time Ms. Butler reigned as head of Local 6434, home health caregivers, daycare providers, and group home leaders in California and more than a dozen other states could be, and often were, forced to support a government union financially, even though they weren’t public employees.

The victims of this type of union shakedown provided at-home services for individuals, often close relatives or friends, while receiving indirect funding from the government.

But in 2014, a legal team headed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s Bill Messenger (now a Foundation vice president) persuaded a U.S. Supreme Court majority that Big Labor may not force caregivers to pay union dues simply because the care receiver pays them with government money.

Unfortunately, union bosses in California and other states were unwilling to accept the outcome of Harris v. Quinn, the case successfully argued by Mr. Messenger on behalf of eight Illinois plaintiffs.

Starting on June 30, 2014, the day the Harris ruling was announced, Ms. Butler was a key player in the SEIU hierarchy’s Golden State schemes to circumvent the decision.

Ms. Butler Made it Nearly Impossible For Caregivers To Stop Bankrolling the SEIU

From 2015 to 2018, Ms. Butler headed SEIU Local 2015, a vast operation exercising tyrannical power over more than 280,000 caregivers.

“While deducting an exorbitant 3% of the caregivers’ paychecks, without even pretending to address any workplace issues, Laphonza Butler’s Local 2015 would routinely send form letters to members who had attempted to resign telling them they couldn’t,” noted Mr. Mourad.

“Caregivers, who often had been unaware they ‘belonged’ to Local 2015 until they saw the money coming out of their paychecks, were told resignations would only be accepted so they could exercise their First Amendment rights under Harris 15 days out of the year, or 4% of the time.

“By any reasonable standard, Ms. Butler’s track record with the SEIU establishes that she has nothing but contempt for workers’ rights as individuals.

“She will surely support every federal forced-unionism power grab that comes her way.”

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