FACT CHECK: Did Laphonza Butler Serve As A Political Consultant To AirBNB And Uber?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter, claims Laphonza Butler, who recently filled the late California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, purportedly served as a political consultant at Airbnb and Uber.

Verdict: True

Butler’s LinkedIn profile shows she was employed with both Airbnb and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Butler recently defended her work with Uber in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fact Check:

Butler was sworn in as California’s newest senator on Oct. 3 by Vice President Kamala Harris, according to CNN. Butler is the only black woman currently serving in the Senate, the outlet reported.

“Re: Newsom’s appointment of Laphonza Butler… If you worked for the SEIU for years but then cashed in as a political consultant and lobbyist at Airbnb and Uber, do you get to retain the title of labor leader?” the X post purports. The post has garnered over 30,000 views as of writing.

The claim is correct. According to the Aspen Institute, Butler served as the president of SEIU Local 2015. Butler also served as the president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW) for seven years and as SEIU’s Property Services Division Director, the institute indicated. SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California and the largest long-term care local in the country, with more than 325,000 nursing home and home care workers.

A press release from Oct. 3 by SEIU Local 2015 announced Butler had been appointed by Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the late Feinstein’s Senate seat. The post congratulated the former president for being selected.

“At this pivotal moment, pro-worker voices like Laphonza Butler are absolutely imperative to ensure progress for working families,” the press release reads in part. “We look forward to seeing the impact we know Laphonza will have in her new role.”

In addition to her multiple aforementioned roles, Butler served as an SEIU International Vice President and president of the SEIU California State Council, according to the University of Southern California (USC) ‘s Board of Regents. Besides her work with SEIU, Butler was the director for Public Policy and campaigns at Airbnb and a partner at the political consulting and communications firm SCRB Strategies in 2019 and 2020, USC’s Board of Regents indicates.

Butler’s employment history is further corroborated by her LinkedIn page. According to her profile, Butler worked as president of SEIU ULTCW from 2010 to 2015, as president of SEIU CA from 2012 to 2018, and as SEIU Local 2015 president for nine years. She became a partner at SCRB Strategies, where she worked from Jan. 2019 to Sept. 2020 before joining Airbnb in Sept. 2020. Butler was employed at Airbnb for a year before leaving the company to join the pro-choice political action committee Emily’s List in Sept. 2021, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Butler recently defended her work with Uber while she was at SCRB Strategies in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. She worked with Uber while the company was fighting AB5, which “expanded the definition of workers who must receive full employment benefits,” according to the Chronicle. Butler did not explain her specific role in Uber’s fight against AB5.

“I’ve been very clear that they should have the protections of employment. I’ve spent my entire career, nearly 20 years, in the labor movement, working to make sure that workers who wanted a union have the opportunity to have a fair shot to build one. My work on AB5 was exactly that,” Butler said to the Chronicle.

Politico reported in October 2023 that SCRB Strategies received $185,000 for its work with Uber, according to California lobbying records. Butler worked with Airbnb’s government affairs team as well, the outlet reported. . (RELATED: Are Wages Keeping Up With Inflation?)

Check Your Fact has contacted Butler, SEIU Local 2015, and Bearstar Strategies for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter