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March 25th... 100th Anniversary Of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire... Never Forget !!!

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WillyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-14-11 09:25 PM
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March 25th... 100th Anniversary Of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire... Never Forget !!!
The Fire Last Time
Labor, big business, and the forgotten lessons of a disaster that happened 100 years ago this month.
Peter Dreier and Donald Cohen - New Republic
March 12, 2011 | 12:00 am



<snip>

Americans tend to be fascinated by whats new and to be indifferent to the past, except when they can use tradition to reinforce current prejudices and power arrangements. This has had an unfortunate effect on how we govern ourselves. We forget important lessons, and repeat old mistakes.

A century ago, on March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, most of them Jewish and Italian immigrant girls in their teens and twenties, perished after a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company in New York Citys Greenwich Village. Even after the fire, the citys businesses continued to insist they could regulate themselves, but the deaths clearly demonstrated that companies like Triangle, if left to their own devices, would not concern themselves with their workers safety. Despite this business opposition, the publics response to the fire and to the 146 deaths led to landmark state regulations.

Businesses today, and their allies in Congress and the statehouses, are making the same arguments against government regulation that New Yorks business leaders made a century ago. The current hue and cry about burdensome government regulations that stifle job growth shows that the lesson of the Triangle has been forgotten. Here, to refresh our fading memories, is what happened.

One hundred years ago, New York was a city of enormous wealth and wide disparities between rich and poor. New industries were boomingnone more so than womens and mens clothing. The new age had created a demand for off-the-rack, mass-produced clothing that could be sold in department stores. The Triangle company made blouses, which were called shirtwaists.

Few of those who bought the new ready-to-wear clothing gave much thought to the people who made them. The blouses, skirts, and sweaters were sewn in miserable factories, often by girls as young as 15 who worked seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a half-hour lunch break, and often longer during the busy season. They were paid about $6 per week, and were often required to use their own needles, thread, irons, and even sewing machines. The factories were overcrowded (they often occupied a room in a tenement apartment) and lacked ventilation. Many were poorly lit fire traps without sprinklers or fire escapes....

<snip>

More: http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/85134/wisconsin-uni...

:kick:


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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-14-11 09:30 PM
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