Union Mourns the Loss of Manuela Butler – Trade Unionist and President of Home Local 389
Posted On: Feb 01, 2018
Services for Manuela Butler, President of Home Care Employees Local 389 were held recently and were well attended by those who loved and respected her. She made a sizable impact on the local and was a strong voice on the Council’s Executive Board.
She has been a trade unionist for decades. During the 1970’s and 1980’s Manuela Butler tolled as a seamstress and a shop steward in Local 155 of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She said she was extremely proud of her efforts as leader of the fire brigade which would have warned workers to escape safely in case of a fire.
This native of Puerto Rico settled in Williamsburg, Brooklyn some years ago and never left. She raised her two children and watched their success. She started her new career working as a home care worker in 1991. She has worked at the Association for the Aged for more than 15 years.
She was active in fighting for affordable housing in Williamsburg. While gentrification has created an upheaval for working family housing and services, she remained optimistic that working families will prevail over the real estate giants if the community unites.
She became progressively active in the union because she saw the need for more members to be active to fight for the rights of home care workers including changing the federal Fair Labor Standards Act recognizing home care workers as workers and not care givers, an antiquated law put into effect in the 1930’s. She said that recognition of home care workers is necessary because it is an affront to workers and women, in particular.
One of her proudest moments as a worker and as a trade unionist was going to the White House to meet President Barack Obama in 2011 to fight for overtime pay for home care workers.
In 2012 she joined AFSCME to organize home care workers in Vermont and she worked hard to build Local 389 to become the largest local in the Council.
A world traveler, she relished her visits to such countries as, France, Spain, English and Mexico. She said she enjoyed watching how other countries treat their workers and she knew this country could do more. While saddened by the election of Republicans controlling the White House and the Congress, she actively worked to prepare her members for the 2018 Congressional elections.
Executive Director Kim Medina extolled the values of Manuela Butler.
“Sister Butler was part of the foundation of District Council 1707. When she visited the White House under the Obama Administration, she told us that was among her proudest moments. And knowing Manuela, she was not hesitant to speak her mind to the President. I am sure she represented us well. She will be missed,” said Medina.