18. LaPhonza Butler
Laphonza Butler is the president of the 190,000-member Local 2015 of the Service Employees International Union, and that’s a very big deal. It reflects Butler’s importance in California politics — for Democrats who want her support and for Republicans who have to go up against Butler’s street army of campaign volunteers. Butler’s role as Local 2015 president cements her position on our list, although she’s slipped a few notches since last time. That’s because she lost her gig as president of the SEIU State Council and was replaced by Roxanne Sanchez, a San Francisco labor leader. Butler, who was born and raised in Mississippi in a family supported by her mother, was at the center of the fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She also has a journalistic streak — she writes for the Huffington Post and other outlets.
Updated Aug. 15, 2018