|By: Michael Whitney Wednesday March 23, 2011 12:05 pm|
It ain’t John Ashcroft ordering the coverup of Lady Justice’s bare breast, but it’s close. The Tea Party-backed Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, has ordered his state’s Department of Labor to remove a mural depicting moments in labor history from its walls. LePage also demanded the state rename the Labor Department’s conference rooms, currently honoring labor icons like Frances Perkins and Cesar Chavez.
What gives? According to LePage’s spokesperson, the labor mural and labor icon-named rooms “showed ‘one-sided decor’ not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.” I’ll let you parse that one. From the Lewiston, Maine Sun Journal:
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.
Worker advocates described the move as a “mean-spirited” provocation amid the administration’s high-tension standoff with unions.
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.
“The message from state agencies needs to be balanced,” said Demeritt, adding that the mural had sparked complaints from “some business owners” who complained it was hostile to business.
So the mural probably shows people-powered revolutions putting CEOs’ heads on spikes, right? I can see how that’d seem unbalanced.
The 11-panel piece depicts several moments, including the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston, “Rosie the Riveter” at Bath Iron Works, and the paper mill workers’ strike of 1986 in Jay.
“There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor,” she said. “It was a pure depiction of the facts.”
Oh. Damn facts! So what’s the Gov’s solution?
Demeritt said he didn’t know when the mural would be removed. [...] Demeritt said the rooms could be named “after mountains, counties or something.”
Or something. Sounds perfect for the Department of Labor…
Picture of the mural below:
UPDATE: Dirigo Blue has the full memo from Maine DOL.
DOUBLE UPDATE: This is crazy. Here’s the letter the prompted the Governor to remove the mural:
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.”
|By: Michael Whitney Sunday February 27, 2011 5:38 pm|
We just spoke with David Dayen in the Capitol – from all appearances, Capitol police are NOT removing the protestors who remain in the building. For the moment, 35 minutes after the supposed clearing of the Capitol Building, the police have no orders to move people, and the protestors aren’t going anywhere.
There are hundreds of people still in the Capitol, and according to David, not nearly enough police to clear them out. The live feed from the top of the Rotunda just cut out.
|By: Michael Whitney Sunday February 27, 2011 4:22 pm|
I’m collecting live coverage of events as police prepare to clear out the Wisconsin Capitol Building in Madison, WI on the 14th day of protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting bill. Police are scheduled to remove protestors at 4:00 p.m. CST, with several dozen planning to be arrested in civil disobedience. You should also check [...]
|By: Michael Whitney Tuesday February 1, 2011 1:07 pm|
This morning the Democratic National Committee announced that its 2012 convention will be held in Charlotte, NC. North Carolina has another distinction: it’s the least union state in the country, with just 3.2% of its workers belonging to a union (coming behind even Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi). And the DNC’s host city of Charlotte has exactly 0 (zero) union hotels in which the 15,000+ visitors will stay for the convention. Finally, the host venue in Charlotte, the Time Warner Cable Arena, does not appear to have any union workers.
|By: Michael Whitney Wednesday January 19, 2011 2:56 pm|
Awesome activism from members of the Sheetmetal Workers union (SMWIA), 200 of whom burst into a private meeting of mortgage bankers to protest layoffs by a homebuilding company that got a $900 million in federal funds intended for job creation, and instead laid off workers. The banksters fled the scene, though one said he would have engaged the workers if they had “worn a suit.”
|By: Michael Whitney Thursday December 9, 2010 1:36 pm|
Labor unions came out in force against the Obama Administration’s NAFTA-style Korea Free Trade deal today, breaking nearly a week of silence since the agreement was dropped late Friday night.
The AFL-CIO labor federation, the United Steelworkers (USW), and the Communications Workers (CWA) all released simultaneous statements Thursday afternoon saying they would oppose the Korea Free Trade deal.
|By: Michael Whitney Thursday December 9, 2010 12:51 pm|
UAW President Bob King tells a more revealing story about the union’s curious support for the NAFTA-style Korea Free Trade deal. In an interview with labor reporter Mike Elk for In These Times, King makes the shocking admission that the union endorsed the deal simply to “reward the [Obama] Administration for good behavior” just for including the unions in the discussions.
|By: Michael Whitney Saturday December 4, 2010 9:53 am|
In the 14 hours since the White House dumped the news of a NAFTA-style Korea Free Trade agreement on a Friday night, labor unions are deafly silent in opposing this job-killing agreement.
UAW came out in support, but to our count, no other unions have said a word. Firedoglake reported last night that President Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and Members of Congress worked the phones yesterday to keep unions quiet. The Steelworkers are reportedly on the fence about supporting, and their goal for the AFL-CIO is neutrality, or silence. So far, it’s working.
In the absence of any opposition from anyone in labor on the new NAFTA, I thought I’d do a public service and show where labor and its allies used to stand on this NAFTA-style agreement, before they were pushed back into the veal pen.
|By: Michael Whitney Tuesday November 9, 2010 1:44 pm|
This is why it’s nice to have a Democratic majority on the National Labor Relations Board: workers get rights. The National Labor Relations Board ruled that an employee can safely discuss work issues with their co-workers on Facebook without fearing punishment by their employer.