Maine Gov. Orders Removal of Labor Mural at Department of Labor
It ain’t John Ashcroft ordering the coverup of Lady Justice’s bare breast, but it’s close. The Tea Party-backed Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, has ordered his state’s Department of Labor to remove a mural depicting moments in labor history from its walls. LePage also demanded the state rename the Labor Department’s conference rooms, currently honoring labor icons like Frances Perkins and Cesar Chavez.
What gives? According to LePage’s spokesperson, the labor mural and labor icon-named rooms “showed ‘one-sided decor’ not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.” I’ll let you parse that one. From the Lewiston, Maine Sun Journal:
Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting Maine’s labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor.
Worker advocates described the move as a “mean-spirited” provocation amid the administration’s high-tension standoff with unions.
Acting labor chief Laura Boyett emailed staff Tuesday about the mural’s pending removal, as well as another administration directive to rename several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.
According to LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt, the administration felt the mural and the conference room monikers showed “one-sided decor” not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.
“The message from state agencies needs to be balanced,” said Demeritt, adding that the mural had sparked complaints from “some business owners” who complained it was hostile to business.
So the mural probably shows people-powered revolutions putting CEOs’ heads on spikes, right? I can see how that’d seem unbalanced.
The 11-panel piece depicts several moments, including the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston, “Rosie the Riveter” at Bath Iron Works, and the paper mill workers’ strike of 1986 in Jay.
“There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor,” she said. “It was a pure depiction of the facts.”
Oh. Damn facts! So what’s the Gov’s solution?
Demeritt said he didn’t know when the mural would be removed. […] Demeritt said the rooms could be named “after mountains, counties or something.”
Or something. Sounds perfect for the Department of Labor…
Picture of the mural below:
UPDATE: Dirigo Blue has the full memo from Maine DOL.
DOUBLE UPDATE: This is crazy. Here’s the letter the prompted the Governor to remove the mural:
She said the Governor’s Office has received “several messages” from the public complaining about the mural. She released an anonymous fax dated Feb. 24 that apparently comes from someone who sat in the Labor Department lobby.
“In this mural I observed a figure which closely resembles the former commissioner of labor,” the person wrote. “In studying the mural I also observed that this mural is nothing but propaganda to further the agenda of the Union movement. I felt for a moment that I was in communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.”
The fax is signed “A Secret Admirer.”