Friday, June 14, 2024
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Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

In the race to fill Dianne Feinstein’s seat in the U.S. Senate, California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler, a former labor leader turned tech lobbyist, as an interim officeholder. While some view this appointment as a positive step toward progress, others have expressed concerns about Butler’s ties to the tech industry. Throughout her career, Butler has been involved in labor organizing and political consulting, championing progressive causes such as a $15 minimum wage. However, her work for Uber during a period of controversy and her role as Airbnb’s director of public policy and campaigns have raised eyebrows. As the political landscape continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how Butler will navigate these challenges and lead in Feinstein’s former seat.

Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

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Gavin Newsom Wants A Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist To Replace Feinstein

Introduction

In the wake of the passing of Dianne Feinstein, a prominent figure in American politics, there is now a race to fill her seat in the U.S. Senate. While the long-term successor is yet to be determined, California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Laphonza Butler, a former labor leader turned tech lobbyist, as an interim officeholder. Although this decision has both excited and disappointed observers, it gives us an opportunity to delve into Butler’s background and assess her potential as a political leader.

Who is Laphonza Butler?

Laphonza Butler was appointed as an interim officeholder by Governor Newsom, who highlighted her identity as a gay Black woman as evidence of her progressive values. This appointment not only makes her California’s first openly LGBTQ United States Senator but also the first Black lesbian to openly serve in Congress in American history. In addition to her identity, Butler has had an extensive career in labor organizing and political consulting, making her a prominent figure in California politics. She has also served as the president of EMILY’s List, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic, pro-abortion women to office.

Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

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Butler’s career in labor organizing

Butler’s career in labor organizing began with her tenure as the president of SEIU local 2015, a union representing long-term care workers in the Los Angeles area. She then went on to become the president of SEIU California, the state’s union organization. Butler has been credited with championing several progressive causes during her time in labor organizing, including the successful push for a $15 per hour minimum wage for California workers. Her work in securing this wage increase was a significant achievement in advancing workers’ rights in the state.

Butler’s transition to political consulting

In 2019, Butler made a transition from labor organizing to the field of political consulting. She joined SCRB Strategies, now named Bearstar Strategies, a consulting firm known for its influence in California politics. Butler’s affiliation with SCRB Strategies allowed her to play a role in helping influential figures like Governor Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown get elected. During her time at SCRB, she also provided consulting services for the presidential campaign of then California Senator Kamala Harris. This transition showcased Butler’s expanding influence and involvement in state-level politics.

Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

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Butler’s work for Uber

During the passage of AB5, California’s legislation that temporarily mandated Uber to re-classify its workers as employees instead of contractors, Butler was retained as a consultant by Uber. Her main role was to advise the company on its dealings with organized labor during a tumultuous period. This intersection of her work as a political consultant and her involvement with Uber highlights the challenges faced by gig economy companies in worker classification and labor relations. Ultimately, Butler was part of the efforts that led to the passing of Prop 22, a ballot measure that overturned AB5 and allowed Uber to maintain its workers’ contractor status.

Butler’s work for Airbnb

Following her time with Uber, Butler served as the director of public policy and campaigns in North America for Airbnb. In this role, she oversaw the lobbying team based in Washington, D.C. This experience provided Butler with further insights into the intricacies of policy-making and the influence of large tech companies in shaping legislation related to the sharing economy.

Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

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Controversy over Butler’s residency

Recently, there was some controversy surrounding Butler’s residency. Her profiles on EMILY’s List and Twitter indicated that she was based in Maryland, leading to questions about her eligibility for the California Senate seat. However, according to a representative from Governor Newsom’s office, while Butler currently resides in the D.C. area, she also owns a home in California and is in the process of re-registering as a California resident to fulfill the requirements of the position.

Progressive opposition to Butler’s appointment

Before Governor Newsom announced Butler as his choice, some progressive voices advocated for the selection of Representative Barbara Lee as Feinstein’s replacement. The Congressional Black Caucus, a notable force in progressive politics, sent a letter urging the governor to choose Lee, emphasizing her commitment to eradicating poverty, defending democracy, and advancing the progressive agenda. This opposition highlights differing opinions within the progressive movement regarding Butler’s suitability for the role.

Gavin Newsom Wants a Former Labor Leader Turned Tech Lobbyist to Replace Feinstein

Other candidates for Feinstein’s seat

Apart from Butler, two other politicians, Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Katie Porter, have also announced their intentions to run for Feinstein’s seat. The decision to support Butler for a full term in the Senate is likely to face significant challenges from these contenders. The upcoming race will provide an opportunity for voters to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and determine who best aligns with their ideals and priorities.

Conclusion

In assessing Laphonza Butler’s potential as a political leader, it is important to consider her diverse background in labor organizing and political consulting. While some may raise concerns about her work for large tech companies, her decade-plus of union organizing work showcases a commitment to workers’ rights. Although there is opposition to her appointment from some progressive voices, Butler’s appointment presents an opportunity for California voters to evaluate her leadership qualities and policy positions. Ultimately, the future of Feinstein’s seat remains uncertain, but Butler’s appointment signals a new chapter in California politics and the potential for continued progress.

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/laphonza-butler-gavin-newsom-dianne-feinstein-tech-lobb-1850891649