• 104 Years Later, Unions Remember The Tragedy That Changed Labor Policy Forever

    Labor unions took time Wednesday to commemorate the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire which became a catalyst for vast labor policy reforms.

    On March 25, 1911, 146 workers died in New York City, unable to escape because of cramped working conditions and a lack of safety precautions. However, with the loss of their lives, unions note a movement was born to improve working conditions.

    “When a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan on March 25, 1911, overcrowded work tables, inadequate and locked fire exits and narrow escape passageways created a fatal inferno for the 146 people – mostly women and girls – who died,” the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) noted.

    On 104th Anniv. of #TriangleShirtwaist fire, we stay steadfast in our fight against the race to the bottom https://t.co/mlaDcc4aby

    — United Steelworkers (@steelworkers) March 25, 2015

    “In the aftermath of the deadly fire that could have been prevented, outraged New Yorkers, lead by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (now Workers United) fought for crucial health and safety workplace regulations that continue to protect us on the job to this day,” the union continued.

    Today: remembering the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire victims & all those who’ve helped make workplaces safer. pic.twitter.com/ll7KhKRM5d

    — US Labor Department (@USDOL) March 25, 2015


    The New York City Central Labor Council, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, organized a ceremony to commemorate the incident at the sight it happened in Manhattan.

    Remembering the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in NYC, 104 years ago today: http://t.co/UInkRcoD1z

    — IBEW Local 1837 (@IBEW1837) March 25, 2015


    J. David Cox, the national president of The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), detailed the long term impact of the incident.

    “Americans have come so far in earning rights for working people,” Cox declared in a statement. “Not just temporary accommodations, but rights. Through collective action, we have earned better contracts, with higher wages, vital benefits, and safer working conditions.”

    “But this did not happen overnight. We have done so through years of struggle and sacrifice, and we cannot forget the lessons of those who came before us, and what they sacrificed to get us where we are,” he continued.

    “The Triangle Factory Fire was an unspeakable tragedy, but something good did come out of it,” Cox added. “Protests, followed by hundreds of others, led to the 40-hour work week, the sick leave, the health benefits, the safety precautions and the child labor laws that we know and love today.”

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