Disaster strikes clothing factory…
Fire engulfs factory open on the weekend, killing 146. There was no fire escape, exit doors were locked, leaving many of the young women, most as young as 15, the choice of burning or jumping to their death from the 9th floor. Many of these young women were recent immigrants who were counting on these jobs, and were too afraid to speak up about the disastrous conditions and build a union.
One of the greatest tragedies in New York happened 95 years ago tomorrow, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in the Asch building at Washington and Greene Streets. The Jewish Labor Committee, Workmen’s Circle, the United Hebrew Trades, UNITE HERE, the New York City Fire Department and others are presenting programming today and tomorrow on the tragedy (hat tip: Arieh Lebowitz):
Friday, March 24, 12:00 noon, Corner of Greene and Washington Streets, off Washington Square Park, NYC (Organized by the UNITE HERE union, the New York City Fire Department, with the participation of the United Hebrew Trades — New York Jewish Labor Committee, New York City public schools and others.) [Flyer attached] Saturday, March 25, 10:30 am at the Workmen’s Circle, 45 East 33rd Street (between Madison and Park Avenues). (Sponsored by the New York Region of The Workmen’s Circle and Street Pictures, and cosponsored by the United Hebrew Trades – New York Jewish Labor Committee, and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.)
The incredibly sad and angering coda to the story of the Triangle fire is that we continue to allow, and even support, sweatshops. I’d be willing to bet that almost everything in bureau and closet is made in under deplorable conditions similar too, and perhaps even worse than, the wretched conditions the young women of the Triangle Fire had to endure.
There are things you can do to fight this. Visit the National Labor Committee’s site and see what they’re doing. (disclosure: I used to work for them, and think they still do amazing stuff. You probably saw Charlie in the movie “The Corporation”). And if you’re looking for sweat-free clothes, check out Sweatshop Watch’s list of retail and suppliers. Let the young women and men of the Triangle fire not have died in vain.