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2008: Governor Kathleen Sebelius
 Governor Kathleen Sebelius
American Rights at Work honors Governor Kathleen Sebelius for her innovation in strengthening the economic opportunities and rights of Kansas workers.
Governor Kathleen Sebelius has proven that strong support of working families and political victories at the ballot box go hand in hand in Kansas. First elected in 2002, she soon began promoting sound public policies and economic opportunities paramount to the interests of all Kansans.

A true champion for state employees, Sebelius signed a 2007 executive order granting collective bargaining rights to over 7,000 registered and licensed home childcare providers through Child Care Providers Together Kansas/AFSCME. In May 2008, Sebelius signed legislation to bring more than 7,500 state employees’ wages up to market value over the next five years to ensure fair pay and attract and retain a quality workforce.

Sebelius has exercised rare leadership in bringing the business and labor community together around common goals. Working with the International Association of Machinists, she’s fought to keep aircraft manufacturing jobs in Kansas.  She’s also worked to ensure the state’s aerospace industry meets its skilled workforce needs, through government-supported initiatives like job training programs.

Seeking to minimize the negative impact of No Child Left Behind on Kansas schools and teachers, Sebelius pushed for the largest investment ever in K-12 education - $1 billion in new funding in the last four years. Moreover, she worked with the National Education Association to survey teachers about working conditions to address concerns of both educators and administrators.

Sebelius is not afraid to take a stand on behalf of working families. She courageously vetoed a virulently anti-worker bill in 2006 making it easier for companies to lay off injured workers.  She has also worked with other governors in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill currently set to be reintroduced in Congress next year that will make it easier for workers to form unions and improve their economic standing.

Sebelius serves on the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee, and received the high honor of delivering the Democratic response to the president’s 2008 State of the Union address.