Labor Leader’s Car Fire Being Probed

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating an apparent arson attack against local labor leader Julie Butcher, whose car was set ablaze outside her home last week.

Butcher, who leads the Service Employees International Union local that represents many city employees, exerts considerable influence over Los Angeles city government and was a close ally of former Mayor James K. Hahn.

The labor leader said she was awakened at 4 a.m. July 7 by her husband, who saw her new Saturn on fire in the driveway of their Highland Park home. A charred can of gasoline was next to the car, she said.


A Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman said the incident was being investigated but declined to provide any more information.

Butcher has developed a reputation as a feisty advocate for city workers, an outspoken champion of labor causes and a spirited ally of local politicians, such as Hahn.

SEIU Local 347 made nearly $69,000 in independent expenditures to support Hahn during the recent mayoral election.

Butcher said Thursday that she had “no idea” what was behind the attack but would not be intimidated.

“I make people angry at me every minute of every day,” she said. “It’s not going to stop me doing what I do.”

On Wednesday, Local 347 e-mailed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council members asking them to condemn the attack.


“What happened to Ms. Butcher’s car is troubling,” mayoral spokeswoman Janelle Erickson said Thursday.

“The mayor believes the crime should be fully investigated and those caught should be prosecuted.”