Not quite two years ago, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) ordered the removalof an 11-panel, 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history from the Department of Labor. LePage, who supports “right to work” for less laws and has pushed to weaken child labor laws, claimed the mural was anti-business and akin to North Korean propaganda.
The mural had been held in a secret location while the controversy gained nationwide attention. But it is back on public display after the state Department of Labor and Maine State Museum reached an agreement to display the mural for three years at the Augusta Museum. It was unveiled at its new location today.
At last the labor mural will see the light of day. The governor’s actions disrespected generations of hard-working Maine people. It’s unfortunate the mural was put in hiding for two years. Where was it hidden?…That’s the million-dollar question.
The mural, by artist Judy Taylor, was commissioned by former Gov. John Baldacci (D). The scenes it depicts include a 1986 paper mill strike, “Rosie the Riveter” at the Bath Iron Works, the enactment of child labor laws, the first Labor Day and Frances Perkins, the first female secretary of labor and promoter of New Deal policies that improved workers’ rights on the job.
In the fall of 2011, a reproduction of the mural was displayed at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. The reproduction was exhibited at several sites as the fight over the mural, which made its way through the federal courts, continued.
Visit the Judy Taylor Studio & Gallery website for a closer look at the 11-panel mural.