Under the guise of “budget crisis” measures, anti-worker legislation is popping up all over the country. But this mean-spirited move shows the arrogant contempt with which Republicans hold workers:
Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting Maine’s labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor.
Acting labor chief Laura Boyett emailed staff Tuesday about the mural’s pending removal, as well as another administration directive to rename several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.
According to LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt, the administration felt the mural and the conference room monikers showed “one-sided decor” not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.
Umm… Removing a mural and renaming conference rooms is going to fix Maine’s budget problems?
Pure and simple…this is another salvo in the Republican War on Workers™.
The mural was erected in 2008 following a jury selection by the Maine Arts Commission and a $60,000 federal grant. Judy Taylor, the artist from Seal Cove, said Tuesday that her piece was never meant to be political, simply a depiction of Maine’s labor history.
Why are Republicans threatened by Maine’s history? Let’s examine the threat. From the web site of the artist, here is a selection of captions from the eleven mural panels:
1. The Apprentice: Here, a Cobbler trains his young Apprentice. In the background, are scenes from that era.
Oooooh…cobbler apprentice. Scary. (And, Donald Trump…this doesn’t look good for your presidential aspirations…)
2. Lost Childhood: Child labor was common in Maine. They frequently performed dangerous tasks for long hours.
That is offensive to LePage, who is trying to roll back child labor laws:
A bill sponsored by state Sen. Debra Plowman (R) and “backed by” LePage would roll back the state’s child labor laws…. Her original bill would have removed all protections on the number of hours 16 and 17 year olds could work during the school week, and allow them to work until 11 PM.
In response to opposition from labor and education groups, Plowman revised her bill to cap hours at 32 per week….
3. The Textile Workers: Young women were often sent to the mills by their families, who could not, or would not support them.
Clearly, this is offensive for the same reason as the previous panel. A young woman’s place is in the sweatshop.
4. The Secret Ballot: For the first time, workers were allowed to vote anonymously in 1891.
Yeah…Women’s suffrage still gets under their skin.
“Wait. What? Vote?!? We thought ‘suffrage’ meant something else.”
5. First Labor’s Day: In 1884, Maine celebrated it’s first “Labor’s Day”, a day for the workers to celebrate.
This factoid, no doubt, is a great stain on the psyche of Maine Republicans.
6. The Woods Workers: A member of the IWW or “Wobblies” tries to organize the Maine woodsmen.
History lesson be damned…I’m pretty sure Republicans consider the word “organize” a vulgar obscenity.
7. The 1937 Strike: Scenes from an unsuccessful strike attempt to create better conditions for women workers.
Ewwww…”strike”? “better conditions for women workers?” For the G.O.P., the vulgarity of it all must trump any potential historical interest.
8. Francis Perkins: FDR’s Labor Secretary, and untiring labor activist, a Maine Labor icon.
You can imagine how a mural of the first woman appointed to a Presidential Cabinet could induce in Republicans indigestion, foaming at the mouth, and the heartache of psoriasis.
9. Rosie the Riveter: Maine’s version of WWII women workers participated as ship-builders.
You see…in the eyes of the wingnuts, Rosie the Riveter is the kind of uncomfortable situation that leads to Rachael Maddow.
Hey…you know another leader who took down art that he found threatening?