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. lstro

    Hope those of you who voted against your own interest and those who stayed home during the previous election are satisfied. Ask yourself, where are the JOBS they ran on? Shame on the Republican Party. 2012 can not get here quick enough.

    March 23, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  2. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Aren't these things the same as the Communist Chinese do?

    March 23, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. azmary

    This is confusing. If it is the Department of Labor , why is it a problem to have murals honoring labor? If businesses are uncomfortable with the murals, let them build a Department of Business with murals honoring business. 38 percent of the vote is not much of a mandate even in a 3 way race, so maybe Gov. LaPage should tread lightly before making major changes to existing structures. This does not sound like a fiscally sound way to spend (waste) the state's money.

    March 23, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. TJ

    I am in opposition to Gov. LePage, maybe like the art work he should be removed. This is agenda driven plain and simple. If governors acted on every request made in opposition, well nothing would exist as everything is opposed by someone.

    March 23, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  5. Jack

    The hostile takeover of our government by corporations. It's not just happening, it's almost done.

    Have fun America.

    March 23, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  6. Publius Novus

    The murals will be replaced by art extolling the virtues of capitalism, corporatism, and banking.

    March 23, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. disgusted

    So the Department of Labor has a mural depicting labor history and that is the wrong place for it? Because one doesn't want to actually think the Department of Labor would welcome anything that helped the labor movement, correct? That just makes perfect sense.

    March 23, 2011 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Since when is the Labor Movement not part of history? This is just another example of the GOP's agenda of eliminating the Middle Class. People take note: The GOP wantsto turn us into a third-world country where the top 2% control and own everything, there is no Middle Class, and the vast majority of us toil in poverty for the ruling class.

    Wake up and come 2012 – vote Democratic!

    March 23, 2011 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why is this so important to take down this artwork? There is no good reason other than it MIGHT show support for workers. That is all it seems to do.

    March 23, 2011 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  10. paul

    taking down a salute to hard honest work because it shows prejudice against business – now that is a Republican mantra

    March 23, 2011 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  11. Midwestmatt

    Wow... What a spiteful right wing, anti-American, loser.

    62% didn't vote for him. Time for a recall effort.

    March 23, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  12. L. T. Fang

    WTH, Maine has decided to wage a class war against the working class?

    March 23, 2011 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  13. DOCinPA

    Perhaps this is an argument in favor of our two party system. With just 38% of the vote, this man is insulting a majority. Having a third candidate just dilutes the will of the people. As unfortunate as it might be, I believe choosing the lesser of two evils is better than having the favorite of one third.

    March 24, 2011 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  14. josh

    it's funny that whenever the left feels "offended" (which is constantly) by something (check out the latest with the gay cure app) they have it removed... what goes around comes around

    March 24, 2011 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  15. LouAZ

    Maine – SOLD to the highest bidder !

    March 24, 2011 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  16. aNTHONY

    War in the middle east continues.
    War on the middle class continues.

    As the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" widens, America is due for yet another uprising when hunger erases color lines and poor whites, blacks and hispanics(a former middle class) soon realize the enemy is not each other, but the elite class r@ping them of their wages, benefits, freedoms and opportunities, to make the top 5 percent even richer.

    Yet here we are on ticker message boards arguing over Left Right Palin Obama Dem Repub Libya and Labor laws.
    Obama has an uphill climb ahead of him to get this country back on its feet and the more Congress opposes EVERYTHING, the less gets done, the more WE all will suffer. Yet here we are, on our computers, while the rich are out having 5 star dinners and we are busy distracted by the smoke screens.

    Good luck America, we finally elect an intelligent leader and its a shame WE dont know how to deal with it.

    Idiocracy at its finest.

    March 24, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  17. LouAZ

    Is LePage going to remove the child labor laws from the State Code ? Women shouldn't vote either. Maybe only property owners get to vote. Got any gun laws ? They are gone soon. Is it too late to join the Confederacy ? Can you shoot Canadians on sight yet ? Damn, you Maine "citizens" are going to have more fun than we are having in Aridzona. You betcha !

    March 24, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  18. Steve Fielder

    This insulting, petty, anti-Labor snub by Maine Governor Paul LePage is further proof that the GOP, at both the state and Federal level, is out to wreck organized labor as a political favor to their wealthy Corporate supporters. Blue-collar working folks who vote Republican are truly undermining their own best interests

    March 24, 2011 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  19. crabcake

    What a joke! as if tearing out these murals will do anything but infuriate the common sense of hard working, intelligent, blue collar mainers. stupid, petty moves like this will simply insure the election of someone with a bit of intelligence to the governorship next time around. at least they'll be done with dimwit!

    March 24, 2011 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  20. Ender

    And so the GOP war on the working class marches on.

    March 24, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  21. Mary

    I truly do not understand why this mural needs to be removed. I don't buy this notion that it makes some people feel unwelcome. Additionally, I thought that these nes Republican governors were going to focus on the economy. Instead, they are pushing their political agenda, putting politics ahead of solving problems.

    March 24, 2011 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  22. Charles W. Skinner

    AFL-CIO: (engage whiny voice)"Whaaaahhhaaa. You're taking away our advantage in negotiations in the rooms where we hold hearings because we use the art to make the management side feel uncomfortable. Whaaaaahhhhaaaa." (end whiny voice).

    Good for Gov. LePage. It's high time that the Governors started standing up to the union THUGS that have waltzed into town and demanded that the executive branch kiss their boots in order to avoid labor issues. Between Gov. Walker, Gov. Kaisch and a few other LEADERS, the states will finally be able to get their fiscal houses in order and bring down the RAMPANTLY high wages and benefits that are paid to unionized state workers (which, incidentally, their NON-union co-employees do NOT partake in). Unions pushed the golden goose too hard, and killed it. It's time for them to join the rest of us in the real world where we have to negotiate on our OWN merits, and not on the backs of our co-workers by threatening to all leave at once. The time has come to tell them "Fine. Go. Be our guest. If we're closed so much as ONE day from a work-stoppage, we're CLOSING the facility and you can EAT your 'unfair labor' signs." NLRB rules be danged.

    March 24, 2011 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  23. JHA in Texas

    More GOP Tea Party Revisionist, going "back in time" and trying to erase /change history. Texas State Board of Education has eliminated all their party's embarassing episodes in history and slanted events that place their party in a better light. Miniimized LBJ's Great Soceity legislation (discouraged students from govt. expectations), eliminated references to "Jim Crow", down played US treatment of early immigration, Japan interment camps, embarassing segregation history of Texas, to many distortion of history to list here. Conservative educational review groups are critical of these removals of history from proposed educational textbooks.

    Why do these GOP Tea Party want to change / eliminate these sad periods in our history? Why hide our country's historic imperfections? We need firm grasp of our past mistakes, so we do not repeat. Also, future generations can study and understand that America has made progress on all fronts in our life.

    March 24, 2011 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  24. Proud American

    Maine's Governor appears to be a member of the American Taliban: wiling to destroy art that does not fit with his world view. The Taliban destroyed the thousand year old giant statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan to show their distain for another religion. Here, a republican governor is destroying a mural in a public office to show his distain for the working class. Nuff said.

    March 24, 2011 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  25. Yoda

    Thank you George Orwell. What a great example of trying to rewrite or bury the past in order to support a current conception of the present.

    March 24, 2011 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
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