Labor Mural Litigation Update; Plaintiffs Request Jury Trial Rather Than Summary Judgment

One of 11 Panels From the Labor Mural Depicting Frances Perkins, the First Woman to be U.S. Labor Secretary Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt From 1933-1945.

By Carol McCracken (Post # l,038)

The national spotlight shone brightly on Maine last March when Governor Paul LePage ordered a commissioned labor mural removed from the walls of the reception area at the Department of Labor in Augusta. The reason for the removal the Governor gave for his decision was the pro-labor message the mural sent to visitors to the building. It sends a bad message to the business community, he said. Aditionally, in a press release the Governor issued last March, he said: “….Maine’s Department of Labor needs to serve and balance the interests of both employees and employers to accomplish its mission…”

The spotlight shone again on Maine in September when Governor LePage and nine other Governors appeared on a television summit on education hosted by NBC’s Brian Williams. On that occasion, LePage told Williams the reason he removed the mural was that the funds used to pay for the mural came from funds used to assist unemployed workers. That information is not correct, however. A former labor comissioner has stated that federal money dedicated to administrative costs was used for the cost of the labor mural. It was purchased from artist Judy Taylor.

When the plaintiffs in the case learned of Governor LePage’s new explanation for removing the mural on national news, they filed a supplemental brief in opposition to LePage’s motion for summary judgment last month. The plaintiffs asked that the matter be heard by a jury rather than by a judge. LePage’s attorney will be filing a response to this early next week.

Please see Post # 739, dated March 25, 2011 herein for more background information.