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After eight years with Republicans at the helm in Lansing, working families need a new direction. We have a chance to make a change this year and elect a governor who can get things done for the people of Michigan. Someone who will fix the roads, invest in skills and job training, make health care more affordable, and get rid of the retirement tax.

Without a doubt, Gretchen Whitmer is the strongest candidate for working people — because she’s the only one who can defeat the Republican candidate in November, and because she’s a tough leader who’s got a real plan to build a better Michigan for everyone.

Working families need a governor who has the backbone to stand up to Republicans when they push anti-worker legislation. Whitmer has spent her entire career fighting back against attacks on our wages, our benefits, and our freedom to negotiate together. When Gov. Rick Snyder locked the people out of the Capitol to pass right-to-work legislation, Whitmer not only stood outside with our members, but she threw open the doors and led the protests from her office.

Whitmer will fight back against Republicans when they’re wrong, but more importantly, she isn’t afraid to work with them to get important things done. As Senate Democratic leader, she worked with Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover over 680,000 Michiganians through Healthy Michigan. She also negotiated a higher minimum wage for working people, which included a cost-of-living adjustment so wages go up when prices go up.

That’s the kind of leadership we need in Lansing.

Whitmer has already released a detailed plan to rebuild Michigan and put thousands of people to work in the process. With her in the governor’s office, we’re going to fix our crumbling roads and ensure that communities across the state have access to clean, safe drinking water. Whitmer’s plan also calls for expanding broadband access to every corner of the state, because right now, 12 percent of Michigan households don’t have access to high-speed internet. With Whitmer’s plan, we’re going to use Michigan workers and high-quality American materials to finally get this done.

The contrast between Whitmer and Republicans is clear. They rig our economy against working people to favor wealthy corporate donors. The leading Republican candidate has taken over $122,000 in contributions from the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Whitmer has been on the front lines of the fight to ensure that all kids have the skills they need to get ahead. And as governor, she’ll invest more in skills and job training programs so workers can get a good job and earn enough to take care of their families and retire in dignity.

Working people deserve a governor who will focus on the things that will actually make a difference in people’s lives right now, and build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. Whitmer is the leader we need to get it done.

Ron Bieber is president of the Michigan AFL-CIO.

LABOR VOICES

Labor Voices columns are written on a rotating basis by United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, Teamsters President James Hoffa, Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber and Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart.

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