Demo­cratic gov hope­fuls dis­cuss union is­sues, wages

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY NICQUEL TERRY The Detroit News

Detroit — Four Demo­cratic can­di­dates for Michi­gan gover­nor laid out plans to pro­tect Michi­gan’s econ­omy be­fore a lively crowd of union mem­bers Mon­day at Wayne County Com­mu­nity Col­lege District.

Top­ics ranged from rais­ing the min­i­mum wage and af­ford­able health­care to the pri­va­ti­za­tion of pris­ons.

Can­di­dates Gretchen Whit­mer, Ab­dul ElSayed, Shri Thanedar and Bill Cobbs all vowed to stand be­hind the state’s union work­ers.

The fo­rum was hosted by Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union, which rep­re­sents more than 50,000 work­ers in the Mid­west in­clud­ing jan­i­tors, se­cu­rity of­fi­cers and food ser­vice work­ers.

Whit­mer said she will pro­tect col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing. In March, the United Auto Work­ers union en­dorsed her for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion and last week, the Michi­gan AFL-CIO said it was back­ing her.

“We’ve got to pro­tect your right to union­ize,” Whit­mer said. “It has been un­der at­tack by the Re­pub­li­cans for a decade here in Michi­gan. You de­serve the same right a CEO de­serves to ne­go­ti­ate a fair wage.”

Thanedar said he sup­ported rais­ing the min­i­mum wage to $15 and wants to tie it to in­fla­tion “so our fam­i­lies never fall be­hind.”

“I will make sure work­ers rights are pro­tected,” Thanedar said. “I will work tire­lessly to re­peal the so-called right-to-work (laws).”

Cobbs talked about a plan to grad­u­ally roll out the $15 min­i­mum wage by start­ing off at $10 and re­quir­ing em­ploy­ers to raise it $1 each year for the next five years.

The can­di­dates also dis­cussed pri­va­ti­za­tion of pris­ons and schools in Michi­gan.

El-Sayed said he wants to pass leg­is­la­tion that ends the pri­va­ti­za­tion of jails and men­tal health sys­tems.

“As gover­nor I will stand up and say pub­lic schools and pub­lic jails and pub­lic men­tal health have to stay pub­lic,” he said.

El-Sayed has re­ceived the en­dorse­ment from the Michi­gan Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion.

Thanedar an­nounced he would shut down for-profit char­ter schools: “no one should be prof­it­ing from our pub­lic school dol­lars.”

Other is­sues in­cluded fix­ing Michi­gan’s roads, low­er­ing auto in­sur­ance in Detroit and Cobbs’ idea of end­ing Detroit’s de­mo­li­tion pro­gram and giv­ing the funds to res­i­dents to re­ha­bil­i­tate hous­ing.

The au­di­ence filled nearly ev­ery seat in the col­lege’s atrium.

Hen­ri­etta Ivey said she was most con­cerned about the pro­tec­tion of unions and higher wages. Work­ers feel more job se­cu­rity when they are rep­re­sented by unions, she said. “... I hope each one of them can make good on what they are say­ing,” said Ivey, a home-care provider. “That they ac­tu­ally bring about that change for unions and bet­ter wages.”

Max Or­tiz / The Detroit News

Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates, from left, Gretchen Whit­mer, Ab­dul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar and Bill Cobb gather Mon­day at Wayne Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Detroit to dis­cuss is­sues that in­cluded pri­va­tiz­ing pris­ons, ed­u­ca­tion and auto in­sur­ance rates in...

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