The mural removed from the Maine Department of Labor offices by order of Gov. Paul LePage was commissioned, created and installed as a way to illustrate a bit of the history of the American workplace.

As executed by artist Judy Taylor, the mural is a powerful reminder of the reasons our laws contain the worker protections we have. These laws were designed to shorten work weeks, protect health, end exploitation of children and assure minimum wages, among other purposes. It took the force of these laws to end the abuses widespread in the labor market, and it took the efforts of champions of workers such as Frances Perkins, apparently now a non-person in the eyes of the Maine government.

That is why the mural had to go, as a prelude to LePage administration efforts to weaken worker protections, protections that were a necessary condition for the unprecedented middle-class American prosperity in the second half of the 20th century. It also is why the only appropriate place for the mural is back on the walls of the Department of Labor.

Tom Eichler