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Maine Governor Moves Mural Depicting State's Labor History

Panels 4-6 of the mural. They represent the first time workers could vote anonymously; Maine's first "Labor's Day;" and a man trying to organize Maine's woodsmen. Judy Taylor/Judy Taylor's Studio hide caption

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Judy Taylor/Judy Taylor's Studio

Despite controversy and protests, Maine Gov. Paul LePage went through with his order to remove a 36-foot mural from the building of the Department of Labor. The mural depicts events in the state's labor history, from the first time unionists were allowed to vote anonymously to a 1973 strike that sought better working conditions for women.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that last Friday about 250 artists and union workers protested plans to move the mural from the Department of Labor to Portland's City Hall.

The paper reports that a spokesman for the Department of Labor said the mural was removed over the weekend. The Portland Press Herald reports that the mural was put in storage.

LePage, reports the Press Herald, had previously said he would wait to move the mural until "he found a new home" for it.

The mural has garnered national attention, because LePage's order comes at a time when tension between unions and Republican governors is growing stronger. In Wisconsin alone, thousands marched against a bill, driven by Governor Scott Walker, that would severely limit collective bargaining.

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LePage told Maine Public Broadcasting Network that he wanted to remove the mural because it represents only one side in the struggle between management and labor and he "doesn't think that's fair."

"This is a public building that works with employees and employers," LePage told MPBN. "What is it that they don't understand that it takes two to have a job? It takes somebody to hire you. It takes someone to work. It's not just the worker It's not just the employer."

Maine's AFL-CIO told the Press Herald the move was spiteful:

"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."