AUGUSTA — Labor leaders described LePage’s decision to remove the mural as “political payback” in a statement released this morning by the Maine AFL-CIO.
“It’s unfortunate that Governor LePage continues to pick fights with the working class in Maine,” said Don Berry, president of the Maine AFL-CIO. “This is political payback, the opposite of putting people first. It’s a spiteful, mean-spirited move by the governor that does nothing to create jobs or improve the Maine economy.”
In an interview, LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the governor wants the mural to be donated to the state museum or another appropriate venue.
“It is inappropriate for a taxpayer funded agency to appear to be one sided or the other,” she said. “The Department of Labor works closely with employees and employers.”
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.”
Bennett also released a memo sent from Maine Department of Labor Acting Commissioner Laura Boyett that asks staffers for suggestions about renaming eight conference rooms, some of which are named after labor leaders.
AUGUSTA — 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.
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.