March 25, 1911 in New York City – 146 garment workers perished in a fire within the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Most victims were young women, recent immigrants, and labor activists who had participated in labor strikes. Many had been arrested and beaten in their fight for the rights of working people. The owners locked the doors hoping to catch workers stealing pieces of lace, making it impossible for many to get out. Unsafe conditions such as faulty fire escapes, narrow stairways and lack of sprinklers also caused this tragedy. Many jumped to their deaths as onlookers watched in horror; firefighters could not reach them with their ladders. This was the worst workplace disaster in New York history until 9/11. Mass grief and outrage was felt across the nation as the fire galvanized the labor movement in the U.S. and became a rallying cry for the international labor movement. We have much to learn from their courage in the ongoing struggle for the rights of working people everywhere. These same unsafe working conditions exist in the Third-World factories where most of our clothing is made. For more information, visit the website RememberTheTrianglefire.org.
Cheryl Parry All Rights Reserved. © 2018