UPDATED: The Triangle Fire: Care2 Members Have Strong Feelings
Sometimes deeply felt Care2 member comments deserve a home of their own. Laura Smith-Gary’s first of three Triangle Waist Fire centennial posts is one that falls into that category. Here are portions of a few:
I’m hoping Wisconsin is the beginning of a radical change in American politics.; that we, the people, begin to take our country back from the corporations who are just as contemptuous of their workers as the owners of Triangle Waist were. Which means, of course, getting rid of their front-men/women in the top echelons of government. Lynn C.
And now government representatives we have elected around this country are trying to do away with even the child labor laws. Wisconsin has proved to me that some rich %#%$#^% is trying to screw even the littlest of the little people in this country so they can make even more money on our backs and lives. I say take the money this excessively wealthy 1% has and redistribute it to the laborers of this land and watch the quality of life and our economy improve for millions, not just the few. The wealthy used to pay up to 90% of their income for taxes. It sounds like a good idea that needs to be re-implemented for the overall health of our society. That would take care of all of our country’s economic problems without the added burden on the people with the least. The redistribution of wealth, to even the playing field, would even be the “Christian” thing to do. Wealthy folks, you know who you are, show your Christianity and do the right thing. Help people, don’t use them for your own gain. Venora Dobrowolski
The lesson remains unlearned.
Imperial Foods Processing Plant in Hamlet, North Carolina
Twenty-five fatalities and 54 people injured in varying degrees.
Building Structure Poultry processing plant of 30,000 square feet with open work areas, sealed concrete slab floor, ceramic tile walls, and ceilings of formica-type finish. Interior kept cool.
Origin and Cause The conveyor to a cooker had hydraulic line repaired which burst when brought up to full pressure. Hydraulic fluid expelled at 800 to 1,500 psi, ignited by heating gas plumes of cooking vat. Fire Spread Immediate and very rapid spread of heavy black smoke throughout the building.
Evacuation Fireball and rapid spread of smoke caused disorderly evacuation attempts. Several exit doors locked, drove employees to seek refuge in cooler or seek other exits. Rapid build-up of toxic gases killed personnel attempting to escape.
Detection and Alarm Plant Operations Manager found phone line already inoperable, ran to vehicle and drove to fire station.
Code Enforcement During the 11-year operation of the plant, no inspection conducted by North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
This is what our Republicorps and Teabagger overlords intend for our future. Mercedes Lackey
Very sad. I’ve read about this story before and it is one that should be told over and over again, least we forget what businesses have and can get away with. Wisconsin is only the beginning, it’s only the first step. Marilyn L.
For anyone who does not understand why what’s happening in Wisconsin is a big deal, THIS is why! Horrible things like this used to happen routinely in workplaces, that’s why the American labor movement began in the first place. Read the history of labor in the early 1900s- and then SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL UNION WORKERS! Unions aren’t perfect, and I personally have never actually had a union job- but that’s beside the point. The reason we have safety standards, a 40-hr week, benefits, and vacations: UNIONS. Don’t let Republicans or anyone else take our right to unions away- it’s one step closer to being slaves of industry. And aren’t we close enough to that already? michelle maiorca
I wonder how many Americans were even aware of the Triangle Coat Factory Fire prior to this article! Hell, they were only a bunch of poor, starving, worthless immigrant women. Many industries of the time allowed women and children to work in polluted, toxic sweat boxes so dangerous that their life expectancies were counted in a couple of years. Now those are the Dickensian conditions to which I’m sure everyone wants to regress! There seems to be a bit of a parallel developing in the modern day US – not like it ever went away completely – of keeping the hard working peasants in their place at the bottom of the social ladder with no health care, decent education or labour protection. Who needs unions?! God forbid they take away a meagre percentage of the profits from the elite, ruling class who look down their noses at everyone else. The poor dears might have to give up their private planes or yachts. There is only a miniscule middle class anymore – mainly just the rich and the poor with the poor carry the biggest burdens of society as usual. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a serious head shake. Linda McKellar
This is why we need unions, people. The women at the Triangle factory had just gone on strike for more decent working conditions, better pay, and shorter hours in 1909. They eventually got wage and hour concessions from ownership, but no union, and no safety improvements.
Without unions, there would be no workplace safety laws, no OSHA, no 40-hour work week, no weekends, no overtime pay, no sick leave, no paid holidays, no vacation time, no family emergency leave act, no child labor laws. And we’d all be working in the Triangle Waist Factory.
So even if you aren’t in a union, and have never been, the benefits you enjoy in your workplace come from unions. They come — literally — at the expense of the women and girls who died in the triangle fire and galvanized the labor movement.â€¨Think about the choice as we endure the new wave of corporate greed and union busting: jump or burn. Jump or burn. Marianne C.
And this is the sort of ‘Back to the Future’ wet dream that has seized Wall St. and the banks. This is why every decent American should fight and oppose at every turn the radical agenda of the GOP/Teabagger cabal currently stalking this country.
In the guise of fiscal conservatism, they are hell bent on stripping union workers of collective bargaining rights, working to ban unions altogether. It’s starting in Michigan. The Gov. of Michigan wants to be able to take over whole towns, if they are found to be in a ‘fiscal emergency’, a term that can mean almost anything, up to and including debt, throwing out their elected officials and installing a government of business types who will run everything for profit and you know what that leads to; substandard everything to the lowest bidder, good services and education only to those who can ‘afford it’. It’s the feudal system all over again folks. Stephen Gyetko
This isn’t about cutting the deficit, this is about creating a two tier economic system where those who do the work, take the risks, and make the profits possible, have no say whatsoever about anything-even if it threatens their lives. rhonda t.
The Tea Party in particular is trying to push progress back 100 years in terms of child labor. They actually condone it! But anyway, working conditions like that were awful and as usual young women most of them immigrants, comprised the majority of the victims. Robert O.
This system of sweat-shop employment has since been exported to the third World Countries (and not long after your own workforce were getting organised), where the workers rights and protection are only to be dreamed of, although the finished products are now in your stores and shops at very low prices. It has to be this way otherwise why would your importers and retailers use them, or perhaps the words should be aid and abet their continued abuse. Edward M.
I grew up with a mother 47 years older than me, born in NYC in 1906. She remembered her mother screaming as she lost friends to the fire. She always described the owners as villains. Thanks for the article, I will light a candle tomorrow for them all. Linda K.
photo by Library of Congress via Creative Commons