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Friday, March 25, 2011

This Is Why We Fight
Posted by Tata | 7:53 AM
On the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, even the rabidly pro-business Wall Street Journal is circumspect.
New Yorkers are marking the 100th anniversary of the worst industrial accident in city history — the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist fire — with a ceremony at the site where 146 garment workers died.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Charles Schumer will be among the speakers at Friday's ceremony honoring the workers who died March 25, 1911.

Family members of victims and survivors will also participate in the commemoration in Greenwich Village.

The victims of the Triangle fire were mainly young immigrant women. Many of them jumped to their deaths to escape the flames.

The fire galvanized the labor movement and prompted many improvements in fire safety, such as laws mandating fire drills.

Dozens of events commemorating the fire are taking place around the U.S.

...but not very. That's just about as little as one could say without ignoring the tragedy altogether. No matter: memorials are planned for this morning and evening.

If you have any doubts about the labor protests occurring every day in the US now, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is what happens when business goes unregulated and workers go unprotected. If you think it couldn't happen again, you are dead wrong. The Triangle fire is no isolated event. As recently as December 2010, history repeated in a GAP clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh: locked doors, unsafe conditions, no fire escapes, people leaping from windows to avoid flames and 27 people died. As the article states, a sweater factory fire the previous February killed 21 and history will repeat wherever business prevents workers from organizing for safety and decent wages and hours. Collective bargaining is our right and the only path to a better future for working class people.
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