Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I noticed in Time magazine that "A mural in Maine's Department of Labor building that depicted workers' history [was removed]; the governor said that he had received complaints about the painting's being too pro-labor." As I am not sure what the purpose of the Department of Labor is OTHER than to be "pro-labor" (to promote the welfare of working people), this leaves me baffled.*

The Maine Department of Labor
History of Maine Workers mural, panels 1-11
by Judy Taylor

The Apprentice: Here, a Cobbler trains his young Apprentice. In the background are scenes from that era.

Lost Childhood: Child labor was common in Maine. They frequently performed dangerous tasks for long hours.

The Textile Workers
: Young women were often sent to the mills by their families, who could not, or would not, support them.

The Secret Ballot: For the first time, workers were allowed to vote anonymously in 1891.

First Labor's Day
: In 1884, Maine celebrated its first "Labor's Day," a day for the workers to celebrate.

The Woods Workers: A member of the IWW or "Wobblies" tries to organize the Maine woodsmen.

The 1937 Strike: Scenes from an unsuccessful strike attempt to create better conditions for women workers.

Frances Perkins: FDR's Labor Secretary, and untiring labor activist: a Maine Labor icon.

Rosie the Riveter: Maine's version of WWII women workers participated as ship-builders.

The Strike of 1986: The International Paper strike in Jay, Maine. One that still divides the town.

The Future of Labor in Maine: A figure from the past offers a hammer to workers of the present, who are unsure of its value in a changing world.

* Here's the U.S. Department of Labor's mission statement: "The purpose of the Department of Labor (DOL) is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights."

1 comment:

Harry said...

Seems like their labor department is becoming an instrument of controlling labor rather than being an advocate for labor.

That is a wonderful mural. Terribly upsetting that it was removed.