WAR ON THE WORKERS
March 25, 2011
I missed attending a hastily called news conference today in Augusta, Maine, organized by the Union of Maine Visual Artists and the state AFL-CIO, because I was taping the next edition of my TV show. The news confab was speaking out against our reactionary Gov. Paul LePage's decision to take down a mural that is on the wall inside the lobby of the state Department of Labor.
The governor apparently received an email signed by "Secret Admirer" who complained that the mural was inappropriate for the Department of Labor. The photo above is only part of the mural which depicts the history of workers in Maine who have labored in the textile and paper mills and at Bath Iron Works (BIW) among other places. The art piece tells the story of labor strikes and worker victories to bring safe and fair working conditions.
The anonymous email, which precipitated Gov. LePage's rampage against labor history in Maine, is as follows:
February 24, 2011
Dear Governor LePage:
Welcome to Augusta. You are doing a great job. Keep it up.
The purpose of my letter is to express my disbelief of what I saw at the Maine Department of Labor Offices in Augusta during a recent visit. While sitting in the lobby I had the opportunity to study a very large mural which adorns the lobby area. In this mural I observed a figure which closely resembles the former Commissioner of Labor. 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.
Mr. LePage with all due respect I must say: "MR. LEPAGE, PLEASE TEAR DOWN THIS MURAL."
Again, thank you for your candor and fresh approach to State Government. Keep up the good work.
A Secret Admirer......
So obviously all it takes is a complaint from one right-winger and the new Tea Party Republican governor tries to wipe out more than 100 years of gritty worker history in our state. Just one comparison to "communist North Korea" and down the mural comes in the tradition of Ronald Reagan's famous Berlin call on Gorbachev to "tear down that wall."
As I am writing this I got a call from Peter Woodruff, union worker at Bath Iron Works, who took the day off so he could attend the news conference. He was asked to speak by leaders of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and he talked about another 100 workers being laid off today at BIW. He concluded his words with a call for the several hundred people to show up for the April 4 Bring Our War $$ Home rally at the state capital.
The hardcore right-wing is feeling empowered right now in the U.S. They are demanding things like taking down murals - thoughts they'd never have entertained before the recent election - which LePage won with only 38% of the vote in a three-way race. Each week we are seeing more and more evidence that the war on the working class is in full-swing in our state.
It's going to take all of us to hold on to social progress at the rate things are going. We are going to be called on to stand up and speak out even when our knees are shaking from fright.
Think of the struggle and sacrifices people made to build the labor movement and to bring forward social progress. We all need to defend that hard won legacy.
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