Thousands of union and labor supporters in Maine, and hundreds of thousands more around the country, are outraged about the removal of a 36-foot labor mural from the state’s Department of Labor headquarters. Republican Governor Paul LePage ordered the mural depicting historical moments in Maine’s labor history be removed over the weekend.
Gov. LePage has also ordered that several conference rooms named in honor of national and local labor leaders, including Cesar Chavez and former U.S. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, be renamed. A spokesman for the governor says the changes are intended to make everyone feel welcome when they walk through the door.
“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 to one local newspaper. “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.”
The president of Frances Perkins’ alma mater, Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, has sent Gov. LePage a scathing letter. In the letter, Lynn Pasquerella said removing the mural “conjures thoughts of the rewriting of history prevalent in totalitarian regimes.”