Friday, March 25, 2011

Maine Gov. LePage Orders Removal Of Labor History Mural

Just how much do the Republicans despise the labor union movement? Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin provided more than a clue with his politically motivated bill dedicated to destroying the public workers union. Now Gov. Paul LePage of Maine (left), a Tea Party favorite, has ordered the removal of a 36-foot wide mural depicting the history of the labor movement in his state. The mural is located in Maine's Department of Labor building:

The three-year-old mural has 11 panels showing scenes of Maine workers, including colonial-era shoemaking apprentices, lumberjacks, a “Rosie the Riveter” in a shipyard and a 1986 paper mill strike. Taken together, his administration deems these scenes too one-sided in favor of unions.

...The mural was created by Judy Taylor, who won a 2007 competition overseen by the Maine Arts Commission to commission artwork for the department’s lobby.

“I don’t agree that it’s one-sided,” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s based on historical fact. I’m not sure how you can say history is one-sided.”

Ms. Taylor said she consulted with historians to do the mural, for which she received a $60,000 grant. “It didn’t intend to be pro-business or pro-labor,” she said. “By default, it’s honoring the working man and working woman.”

Mr. LePage has repeatedly clashed with labor unions since his inauguration in January. He is pushing for a higher retirement age for public employees and for “right-to-work” legislation that would allow union members to stop paying dues or fees.

...Mr. LePage has also ordered that the Labor Department’s seven conference rooms be renamed. One is named after César Chávez, the farmworkers’ leader; one after Rose Schneiderman, a leader of the New York Women’s Trade Union League a century ago; and one after Frances Perkins, who became the nation’s first female labor secretary and is buried in Maine.

Click here to view the entire mural with historic explanations. Below are panels 4-6, entitled, "The Secret Ballot," "First Labor's Day" and "The Woods Workers." All are moving portraits of working people struggling for their rights, a concept deeply offensive to Gov. LePage:

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