Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maine Governor Orders Removal of Labor History Mural

Maine Governor Orders Removal of Labor History Mural

The mural depicting the state's labor history, is in the lobby of Maine's Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta.

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labor mural 3

Three panels of the eleven-panel mural Gov. LePage has ordered removed from Maine's Department of Labor.

AUGUSTA (AP) _ Maine Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta.

In addition, the LePage administration is renaming several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.

LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt says the mural and the conference room names are not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals and some business owners complained.

Spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett says the mural sends the wrong message. "It's inappropriate for a tax-payer funded agency to have, or to appear to be, on one side or the other," Bennett says. "In this case, you've got DOL, who's working very closely with employers and employees, so we need to convey the image that we are receptive to both."

But Don Berry of the Maine AFL-CIO says the mural depicts historical events and belongs where it is. "I'm really amazed that a governor named 'LePage' would be taking that history off the walls," Berry told MPBN's Susan Sharon. "You know, a lot of the history comes out of Lewiston-Auburn--the textile mills--and a lot of it's French heritage, too."

The mural was erected in 2008. It depicts several moments in Maine labor history, including a 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston and "Rosie the Riveter'' at the Bath Iron Works.

The Sun Journal newspaper says some worker advocates feel the move is a "mean-spirited'' provocation.

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