Robert Reich: What Maine's Assault on Labor History Really Means





[Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was secretary of labor during the Clinton administration. He is also a blogger and the author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future."]

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history. Among other things, the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic "Rosie the Riveter," who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.

The LePage administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.

The governor's spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were "not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals."

Are we still in America?...

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down.

That's why the current Republican assault on workers -- on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Gov. LePage) on our common memory -- is so despicable....


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