Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Business Should Condemn LePage's Hubris

The moral mural position and self interest ought to trump petty triumphalism.

When businesses, large or small, sit down at the table with a union representative or an employee not a member of a labor union to work on some employer/employee impasse or issue, a climate of collaboration is essential to success. Paul LePage's mural madness may seem remote to those discussions in the future but the Governor has with distain added his bit of poison into what ought to be atmosphere of respect for workers, open-minded discussions, and mutual purpose.

Businesses currently in Maine are invested for perhaps reasonable or rueful reasons but understandable ones in the red tape roll back and they are also focused on emergence from recession. Adding a bit of employer versus employee toxicity is hardly in their interest. And having the addition of it made in a heavy handed "I'm the boss" approach, based on a feeble flippant fax, for an in-your-face symbolic sophomoric stunt, is counterproductive to a relationship that needs some attention already.

Workers should not only feel respected for their work contribution but should also feel they hold personal worth and dignity as more than mere cogs in the wheels of commerce. Removing artwork on labor history from the Maine Department of Labor is very much the wrong message delivered in a brusque, bossy, and bullying matter. It says, "Your history is unimportant, your heroes are rubbish, and your connection here is severed."

I contend that it truly does not represent what reasonable employers, business leaders, industry groups, entrepreneurs, and even businesses that might be looking at the state for possible investment and expansion want. Why would the clumsy slap down by a third party of people one needs to partner with be welcome? Why would the intrusion into existing balanced relationships be helpful? Why would one invest to relocate a business to Maine in an atmosphere with unpredictable elements?

In closing, businesses in this state have a lot of priorities, and one is not symbolically beating down workers. In fact some of their priorities are the opposite, to increase employer/employee collaboration for best results, to uplift and improve workforce quality built on good relations, and to build a great reputation for attracting topnotch employees, consumer marketing purposes, and being pillars of our communities. "Made in Maine" means, "Made by Mainers."
Business leaders should openly condemn Governor Paul LePage's unproductive attack on their employees. I urge them to speak out clearly rather than faxing.

Not addressed in this piece is the role many companies and business leaders in this state take in promoting the arts. I never fail to appreciate and often patronize the sponsors noted for exhibitions at museums and the underwriting of play productions and concerts in Maine. To these sponsors of the arts, this is also an affront of petty censorship and artistic expression that they wisely support.