March 25, 2011

Group protests Labor Dept. mural removal

By Ann S. Kim
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A small group gathered at the Department of Labor this morning to reflect on the struggles of workers.

click image to enlarge

Jessica Graham, of Waterville, right, leads a memorial prayer on the 100th anniversary of the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 people as part of an event this morning in front of a mural in the Dept. of Labor lobby in Augusta. This was the first of two events to protest Gov. Paul LePage's order to remove the 36-foot, 11-panel mural Judy Taylor, of Tremont, that was installed there in 2008. There is another scheduled there for noon.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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The event was prompted by Gov. Paul LePage's decision to remove paintings depicting labor history from the department's waiting room.

The event also comemorated the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. Participants placed red carnations on a table by a panel depicting a 1937 strike at the Lewiston-Auburn shoe mills.

Carol Sanborn of Dresden, one of 14 adults in the group, said it would be an insult to remove the faces of workers from the Department of Labor.

"Maine is about workers. Workers built Maine. Workers built the companies – the companies LePage is treating as a special interest gourp. It's not fair to take (workers') personal experiences out of the picture."

The group was organized by three women who reached out to their friends through Facebook.

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