SEIU’s Michigan State Council announced today that Gretchen Whitmer is their choice to carry the torch for working families in the fight for the Governor’s seat this November. The former Senate Minority Leader, who protested alongside thousands of Union men and women on the day Right-to-work was passed, has demonstrated throughout her career a clear commitment to Union principles and a dedication to rebuilding the middle class.
“Throughout her career, Gretchen has been a champion for working people and has always been a great partner in lifting up and fighting for the issues that affect our membership,” said Andy Potter, President of the SEIU Michigan State Council. “It’s about values. It’s about saying this is who we are and this is what we believe. Gretchen shares our values inside and out and I believe she will embody and promote those values as our next Governor.”
“Gretchen Whitmer’s proven experience in expanding Medicaid for more than 600,000 Michiganders and in holding huge corporations accountable show that she will fight for everyone, not just the wealthy few,” said Inga Skippings, Healthcare Michigan Trustee. “No matter where we come from, we are united across this state by our hard work to provide for our families and, sadly, our struggle to get ahead. As governor, Gretchen will stand with us fighting for a $15 minimum wage, and strengthen Unions to create a strong middle class that everyone can be a part of this time.”
The former State Senator echoed those values in her statement, saying: “I’m proud to have this endorsement because Michigan workers invented the middle class. For too long, Rick Snyder and Bill Schuette have attacked our workers’ wages, benefits, and right to collectively bargain. We deserve better. Together, we’re going to fight for a $15 minimum wage and make sure every Michigander has a path to a high wage job so they can raise their family and retire with dignity. Let’s get it done.”
As part of the SEIU endorsement process, candidates were asked to work-a-day in a members shoes, to better experience the working conditions of Union members in Michigan. Gretchen’s “work-a-days” were as diverse as SEIU’s membership. She worked with a member from Local 1 to perform custodial services at the Detroit Metro Airport, filled potholes with members of the Allegan County Road Commission, and took care of patients alongside a homecare worker in the city of Detroit.
“Political candidates often use the term ‘working families’ and it sounds like a cliché. Gretchen Whitmer truly understands that real people with real-life struggles are the ‘working families’ of Michigan. We know first-hand that Gretchen gets it,” said Stephanie Arellano from Local 1. “She spent a day cleaning the airport with one of our janitors, demonstrating that she couldn’t claim to advocate for working families unless she truly understood the plight of a person working full-time hours while still living in poverty. We are confident Gretchen will govern with us in mind.”
Liza Estlund Olson, Treasurer of the Michigan State Council and Executive Director of Local 517M had similar praise about Gretchen’s participation in their “work-a-day” experience. “We represent a wide array of public employees including bus drivers and County Road Commission workers. Gretchen understands roads and the maintenance of them is what keeps Michigan’s economy moving. That is why she spent an afternoon with one of our road commission crews filling potholes and seeing up close up the condition of our roads. She says, “fix the damn roads” and we do too.”
The SEIU Michigan State Council is comprised of four statewide locals, SEIU – Healthcare Michigan, SEIU – Local 1, SEIU – Local 517M and Michigan Corrections Organization, Local 526m.