Maine governor orders labor mural takedown
March 23rd, 2011
08:37 PM ET
12 years ago

Maine governor orders labor mural takedown

(CNN) - Maine Gov. Paul LePage ordered a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history be removed from the lobby of the Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta, Maine, according to LePage's office.

The plan put forth by the Republican's administration also includes renaming several department conference rooms that carry names of pro-labor icons.

LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett said discussions about the mural began months ago. After they received phone calls in opposition to the mural, his administration concluded the art showed favoritism toward a certain group.

"We understand the value of history and respect the artist, we are now exploring options of where it can go," Bennett said. "We want to find the appropriate place for it. We want to find it a home."

Bennett said the Maine Arts Commission will help find a suitable place for the art.

The 11-panel mural depicts labor scenes including a cobbler and a textile worker, and pro-labor organizations have used the action to criticize the governor.

A statement from the Maine AFL-CIO said removing the mural is an "insult to working men and women" and is another example of how LePage is putting politics before people.

"No matter what you name a room, no matter how many pictures you take down, the truth is that this state was built by and for working people and this move dishonors the generations of hard working Mainers who came before us," the statement said. "Paul LePage cannot erase our history, and he will not silence the voice of working people in Maine."

LePage, a first-term governor, was elected with 38 percent of the vote and Tea Party support in the November elections, defeating independent Eliot Cutler and Democrat Libby Mitchell.

Laura Boyett, the acting commissioner for the Maine Department of Labor, in a letter to her employees, said the department received feedback that the building is "not perceived as equally receptive to both businesses and workers," and is therefore removing the mural and renaming all of the conference rooms.

"If either of our two constituencies perceives that they are not welcome in our administration building and this translates to a belief that their needs will not be heard or met by this department, then it presents a barrier to achieving our mission," Boyett wrote.

- CNN's Nina Raja contributed to this report

Filed under: AFL-CIO • Maine
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. OneMoreTime

    He is Maine's governor and they have to live with him. I just want to say that the roster of candidates coming out of the
    Tea Party have no reason nor sense of what this Country is about. They want to tear down everything that has really
    held us together through art, music, debate, love for the environment, our children, each other, and the beautiful
    flag that is our center of pride. They claim Christianity, but they are going against all that is good and right.
    Destruction has become their "war cry" and my first thought is to leave. However, I will talk and work against them
    for as long as I can because they are ripping out the very soul of America and it has to be stopped. Maybe this is
    too dramatic, but it is also getting very, very, serious.

    March 23, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. seriously???

    This Governor's actions are actually quite appalling. I'd like to know how long the mural has been up in the building. I find this to be extremely telling how combative the far right and the Tea Party are to middle class and working Americans.

    March 23, 2011 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  3. scriptfoo

    So ... the department of labor can not display artwork depicting labor history. It's sad that the "two constituencies" are people and businesses, but only because it's the people that vote for elected officials. Sure businesses have some influence, but it's still the people that vote; there technically should be only one constituency for which the department of labor must be concerned.

    March 23, 2011 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. M

    What another unthinkable idea by a Republican, these paintings are fibers of our history and they represent a period of change and growth for labor in the United States. I am just so dishearthened with what brewing for this country and the hatred I have heard from the right wing who sprew not a check and balance but pure hatred for anyone and now things that don't agree with them and their agenda. And how much will this cost the state of Maine and what murals will hang in those halls, a painting of teaparty express bus? Get real, this was historic and proud time for America, more good came out of unions than what is brewing now.

    March 23, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  5. Henry Miller

    A statement from the Maine AFL-CIO said removing the mural is an "insult to working men and women..."

    It's not an "insult to working men and women," it's simply a reflection of the fact that a state Department of Labour is not supposed be an advocate for unions–and that's what's upsetting the Maine AFL-CIO.

    March 23, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. Cindy

    Sad. A mural of working people is coming down. Pretty soon all we're going to see across America, are statues of Wall Street Icons.

    March 23, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    The GOP is alienating the entire American work force. They may as well concede 2012 to Obama, the way they are going. No one is going to vote for them.

    March 23, 2011 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  8. Chris

    Republicans once again rewriting history to suit their agenda.

    March 23, 2011 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  9. jules sand-perkins

    A mural about unions is not as much a work of art as it is a political advertisement.
    Governor LePage is correct in trying to lessen both the power and the positive image of unions.

    March 23, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    The all out war by the fascists against the middle class is in full swing now. Soon they will be heard saying "Let the eat cake".

    March 23, 2011 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. MadMN

    Are the Republicans really that afraid of the common people who bulit this country?

    March 23, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. JohnBurg

    Wow. This country. I tell you. These new Republican governors are corporate fat cats. They can't even handle pro-union paintings. That is lame. Really really lame. Destroy our knowledge base and create corporate zombies.

    March 23, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  13. done with the b.s

    You know wats ironic it is always republican administrations that go after your rights and freedoms and try to undo everything that has shaped the middle class and what we have a a great country today. they go about these radical changes and people sit idly by and go under the deception that it is the democrats that push far reaching radical agendas. who passed the patriot act(spying on americans bill) which i think its necessary sometimes to prevent terrorist, who tries tell women when u can have an abortion even if your health is in danger, burst unions and takes away your collective rights to bargain and now removing things that chronicle our struggle and history to create a perfect union. but idiots keep voting republican and think cos Obama is not white or traditional president people used to seeing he is radical and coming after you or trying to strip u of ur freedoms while the republicans with thier coporate sponsors hood wink u all and doing it right under your very nose. report just out today almost everystate with republican gov and state congress is pushing union busting bills and trying make it dificult for women have abortions without regard to safety of the woman and one bill think its in ohio trying to make it illegal have an abortion after 4 weeks no matter the circumstance. i am pro-choice but i do not support abortion i just belive its a womans right choose what she does with her body and i dont think they make those decisions lightly

    March 23, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  14. John

    LePage is beyond silly,

    March 23, 2011 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. John M. Croce

    The mural has eleven panels, the govenor wants them removed because they don't reflect all of the history of Maine, so why not remove only a portion of them? Remove five or six of the panels and replace them with pictures of the greedy and unscrupulous business owners who believed in social darwinism. Shouldn't everyone feel represented, then, in that building? It's true that unions have grown to a point where they are stifling business, however, that doesn't mean there's not a need for them or that they were necessary at a point in history. It seems as if this govenor is trying to erase history. Maybe it will work, and then in a little time from now we can all try and forget that we mistakenly voted in a bunch of neo-nazi conservatives who are hell bent on servicing the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.

    March 23, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. usualone

    This governor just is one more Republican who is insensitive to the middle class. Union is not a bad word, Mr. Governor.

    March 23, 2011 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  17. KD

    Are these people really such idiots that they honestly believe becuase of a conference room name or a mural that business leaders will not feel welcome in a government building? Really? Do we call this "economic correctness?"

    This is kindve Orwellian, and reading this article was a pretty disgusting insight to some who support the Tea Party. This is a war on labor gone too far. Be careful the road you walk or doublespeak will start to say...

    War is Peace
    Ignorance is Strength
    Labor is Corporatism

    Unless of course, it doesn't matter, in which case QUIT WASTING TIME AND TAXPAYER MONEY ON STUPIDITY

    March 23, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  18. lgny

    Good grief.

    This is really getting silly. Art is exactly what it is. Why wouldn't a labor department have images of people working.

    March 23, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  19. Matt

    Same {thing}, different day. Another Republican who thinks that workers are a problem, who thinks that businesses are more important than people. I believe he forgot that businesses don't vote.

    March 23, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  20. Jake

    This is what the Republicants worry about? What a bunch of losers!

    March 23, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  21. JamesB

    The solution is easy. So no one feels they are not going to get a fair hearing at the Maine Department of Labor the administation building walls should be painted gray and conference rooms should not have names but simply numbers.

    March 23, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. keeth in cali

    Everyone against Labor needs to remember the 40-hour workweek, the weekends, paid vacation and sick time, child labor laws, workplace safety laws, mandated meal breaks, and health care for full-time workers - and then do a Google search for "A Day in the Life of Joe Republican."

    March 23, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  23. marc

    Well it looks like this typical scum bag Republican is using the same tactics used by Henry Ford's anti labor crowd and goons used in the 1920;s. It appears the The Republican pary and the Tea Partiers are looking more and more like the Brpown Shirt goons of Germany in the 1930's.

    March 23, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. Seattle Sue

    Will the Governor be burning books next?

    March 23, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  25. GonzoinHouston

    This is what happens when the current crop of republicans get power. They immediately use it to attack their opponents in any way possible. To paraphrase that old Oldsmobile commercial, "this is NOT your father's GOP".

    March 23, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
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