For the most part the furor over Gov. Paul LePage's redecorating plans at the Department of Labor has centered on the 36-foot-long mural depicting several prominent figures and key moments in Maine's worker history.
But the governor's decision to rename department committee rooms currently carrying the monikers of several prominent labor figures is also getting some attention. The administration's justification for renaming the rooms mirrors its motive for removing the mural. It believes the names lean too heavily toward organized labor and are potentially hostile to business.
Two rooms are named after labor heavyweights, Frances Perkins and Cesar Chavez. Perkins was the labor secretary under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and considered the driving force behind Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right of workers to unionize, the minimum wage and the 40-hour workweek.
Perkins also has ties to Maine. She's buried in Newcastle.
The federal labor building in Washington D.C., is also named after Perkins.
There are several other places carrying her name, including a public library in Worcester, Mass., and a school in New York.
Chavez is more ubiquitous.
At least 46 schools in 13 states are named after the farmer turned civil rights and labor activist, according to a Google Earth search.
Additionally, at least 11 states have Cesar Chavez streets. The city of Dallas last year added a Cesar Chavez Boulevard, but not before Mayor Tom Leppert resisted the moniker because he wasn't sure it was right for redevelopment efforts there.
Austin City Hall is located on Cesar Chavez Street, a few blocks from Silicon Labs, Iron Works BBQ, the Four Seasons hotel and the city's convention center. Those are just a few of the businesses located along the thoroughfare, which marks the southern edge of Austin's central business district.
It's a similar situation along Cesar Chavez Avenue in Los Angeles, a long thoroughfare that's home to a hospital, doctor offices, bike shops and restaurants.
There are 11 parks named after Cesar Chavez, most in California. There at least six public libraries bearing his name.
There's also Cesar Chavez, Texas, a town in the southern part of the state.
Perkins and Chavez are also honored in the U.S. Department of Labor Hall of Fame. The hall honors posthumously those "whose distinctive contributions to the field of labor have enhanced the quality of life of millions yesterday, today, and for generations to come."
The honorees also include several American business titans such as Adolphus Busch, Charles Walgreen and Harley-Davidson.
The committee rooms at the state's labor department don't honor, say, L.L. Bean. But they do have a local flavor.
Marion Martin was the state's former labor commissioner from 1947 to 1972, serving under eight Republican governors and two Democrats.
William Looney was a Republican state senator from Portland. According to the plaque outside of Looney's conference room, the lawmaker spearheaded reforms in child labor laws in 1887, including a bill that prohibited workers under 18 from working longer than 10 hours a day.
Manufacturers opposed the change, but Looney won. He later became the state's labor chief.
In 1854 Sarah Wilson was a textile worker at Bates Mill No. 1 in Lewiston. According to Wilson's plaque, she was one of thousands of "mill girls" who traveled from farms and small communities throughout New England and Canada to work in textile mills.
Wilson was among the employees at Bates Mill No. 1 and Lincoln Mill who tried to reduce their workday from 15 hours to 11 hours by staging a walkout in the streets of Lewiston in 1854.
Charles Scontras is a labor historian at the University of Maine. He advised artist Judy Taylor on the disputed mural. His name is on one of the committee rooms. He's also the uncle of Dean Scontras, a former Republican congressional candidate.
The Able ME room is named after a program in the labor department, while the Rose Schneiderman Room is named after the labor activist who worked on FDR's New Deal.
Dan Demeritt, a spokesman for LePage, said last week that the governor wants to rename the rooms after something more neutral, such as "counties and mountains or something."