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Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire 100 Years Later

Society & Culture  (tags: fire, unsafe working conditions, teenagers, women, unions, Triangle Fire )

- 2915 days ago -
March 25, 1911 the fire killed 146 mostly women half were teenagers who had the year before gone on strike trying to form a union for better safety conditions. It took these horrific deaths in an inferno before the laws were changed around the USA.


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Sheryl G (359)
Monday February 28, 2011, 9:00 pm
I watched this story on PBS this evening and felt this really needed to be put on the Care2 news for others to view that may not have seen it on television.

This historical tragic story could not have come at a more fitting time with the attack on Unions that have been in the forefront of getting all of us safer working conditions, better wages, and the right to have a bit of say in our lives.

These, mostly women, many teenagers, had tried to form a Union the year before. They went on strike and their employer did everything from hiring prostitutes, their pimps, and other thugs to beat them up. The police found little sympathy to them while arresting them and also clubbed them.

Many other factories with the same horrible conditions also joined them on the streets and eventually many of the factory owners allowed Unions but unfortunately the Triangle Factory did not. Although they had gained shorter working hours and a raise in pay, the working conditions were far from safe.

It took their deaths in this inferno to finally cause the Government to step in to pass stricter safety standards. As the youngest death was only 14, this also started the beginning of passing Child Labor Laws. And now we have Senator in Missouri, Jane Cunningham (R) that wants to eliminate those protective laws for children.

We need to remember stories such as this, otherwise Big Business will have us living back at the late 1800's and early 1900's in these horrific conditions that our ancestors had to fight to improve for us. Let us not loose grown that many of them gave their life to gain for themselves and the future workers of this Country.

Deborah B (71)
Monday February 28, 2011, 9:38 pm
Thank you, Dandelion, for bringing us this story and at such an important moment as we witness what is hap[pening in Wisconsin. I am listening at this moment to an interview with one of the fourteen senators who have fled to Illinois where I reside in order to prevent the Republicans the quorum they need to pass their bill that would bust the unions and set a most disastrous trend in movement. It was mentioned that apparently they might be nailing down windows and so forth to keep people out in the capital building as they protest there. How strange it is to me to think that I lived for almost three years in Ripon, Wisconsin which is a small town noted as the birthplace of the Republican party. You are ever en point with things, Dandelion. The story of the Tgriangle Factor is one I had not heard and I am grateful that you brought it forth to me and others.

Deborah B (71)
Monday February 28, 2011, 9:40 pm
You cannot send anymore Green Stars to Dandelion as you have already done so this week. So, A Million Green Stars For You, Dandelion.

Past Member (0)
Monday February 28, 2011, 9:47 pm
Noted with much appreciation Dandelion. I hope since the anniversary of the fire is later this month I will be able to watch the PBS show also. Why does it always take a tragedy to occur before any government steps up to right the wrongs?

Norm C (74)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:00 pm
A hundred years ago, long before the word "teenager" was coined, children from 8 - 19 were called something completely different -- employees. We can thank unions for the reality that today we mostly call them students and graduates.

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:00 pm

Good job, birthday girl!


Linda G (187)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:04 pm
Excellent post, Sheryl and very timely. Thank you once again for your caring, sharing, knowledgeable heart.

Carrie B (306)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:07 pm
Thank you so much, dear friend! This is an excellent post!

Sheryl G (359)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:13 pm
Thanks Carole, just because it's my birthday doesn't mean I should lay down on the job. I appreciate all those who took the time to view this article thus far and understand the signifigence of it. I would like to see Unions become stronger after the fight that is happening now. Don't let other people bully you into turning on Unions and I see much of it on the threads around here as well as what is happening in the news. We must recall the situations of the past, learn, and never forget.

Toni C (508)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:14 pm
Norm mentioned something very important in his post... children 8-19 were called employees, not children... I know it hasn't been a month ago Missouri decided the child labor law should be changed to where children 14 years old would be allowed to work. Instead of going forward in this country, it seems there are those who are trying to take us back to the beginning of the 20th century... child labor, low wages, no women's rights [as a matter of fact, at that time women didn't even have the right ot vote, so are they going to try to take that away, too?] Olivia, if the PTBs have their way about it, we're not going to have any PBS, either. Monopolys were bad for this country... unions have been good, so we need to stand behind them and present solidarity during their time of need. Republicans and the Tea Party have awakened a sleeping giant... now listen to us roar!!!

Jeannette A (137)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:17 pm
The tragedies have already begun.... 2 small children lost their lives February 22 because the local fire house was closed "as a part of Philadelphia’s cost-cutting measures"....

"Two children were killed in a fire in the city’s Olney section Tuesday, and now an official from the firefighters’ union is questioning if Philadelphia’s cost-cutting “brownouts” of fire companies played a role. A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old were pulled from the row home on the 100 block of Sparks Street once firefighters were able to knock down the flame. The engine that would have been first on the scene, Engine 61, was browned-out, or closed for the day, as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures."

While this is not directly involved with busting the unions, it does address the issue of cities not funding services that give protection to citizens in need while allowing corporations and the extremely wealthy to contribute little or nothing, thus causing the budget shortage in the first place.

Mac R (289)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:25 pm
The first thing to do is demand the dems and progressives with media voices start defending unions and counter the rightwing demonizing that is so relentless. We must frame the debate on our terms and take that power away from the vast rightwing media machine. I know, an exceedingly difficult task when dems in office are so stricken with PD (Progressive Disfunction), but we have to start!

Sheryl G (359)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:26 pm
Jeannette, you hit the nail on the head with this statement.

"While this is not directly involved with busting the unions, it does address the issue of cities not funding services that give protection to citizens in need while allowing corporations and the extremely wealthy to contribute little or nothing, thus causing the budget shortage in the first place.

It is this type of logic that the American people need to wake up to. This was also warned by those who protect us, that we will suffer in loss of life and property with cutbacks to vital services. How much money do you place on a life? Ages 7 and 9 what a shame.


Mac R (289)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:30 pm

Agnes H (144)
Monday February 28, 2011, 10:59 pm
I read for about an hour I think and also noticed a lot or most of the workers were either Russian Jews or Italian Catholics. At first I just choose some names and always seem to choose Russian Jews or some Austrian Jews. Then decided to get to know every person who had given their lives for the Unions in the workforce. There were a lot of teenagers, and I suppose when you get to a new country and not understanding the language you only have one choice and that's to work to build a better place than you had in your country of origin.

I think people have to do what they can to keep the unions and I'll help as much as I can. Like I said once before, if you can't stand by your friends, you're not worth much to them and can't be called a friend! I'll sign any petition I can and forward every article I get to everyone, even the animal lovers outside America! It's a start there and other countries are watching you. If they manage to get rid of the Unions in one State, others will soon follow and not just other States in America, but other countries will soon try the same and believe me countries like Spain, Greece those countries with huge deficits will see what can happen on one Continent can also happen in their country!

Jo-Ann Harris (85)
Monday February 28, 2011, 11:03 pm
Thank yo for the article Dandelion and noted.

Jae A (316)
Monday February 28, 2011, 11:07 pm
It does being the point home so ta say and the timing is perfect for this one to surface again. Good one to pass via care2 system and other e mail system accounts.

As Mac points out..." an exceedingly difficult task when dems in office are so stricken with PD (Progressive Disfunction), but we have to start" lets get started with sending this one to everyone we each know.

Happy Birthday Sheryl...and many many many many..more.

Agnes H (144)
Monday February 28, 2011, 11:14 pm
Dandelion, when I opened this article I was the first one, so you can see how much I have been reading. Btw Happy birthday and a card is on it's way. It may be a few days late sorry for that!!!

Animae C (507)
Monday February 28, 2011, 11:35 pm

Past Member (0)
Monday February 28, 2011, 11:38 pm
The security at this time was lousy. Just as bad as in many low income countries today. It is sad that a tragedy will always have to happen before something happens. When it comes to safety.

Cindy B (61)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 12:07 am
I've read about this several times before... it's just hard to imagine the horror, the loss. Anyway, thank you for the article, Sheryl/Dandelion, and hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow!

Pamylle G (461)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 3:26 am
Yep - there were - and are - sure good reasons for Unions ! Greedy people don't care much about workers...

Eva O (60)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 5:31 am
Wow, this is a very impressive story and a great if not sad reminder of why we have Unions. Thank you for sharing it.

Bill C (91)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 8:08 am
Thanks for informing me. I had not heard of this before.

Suruna WTF (38)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 8:31 am
Unions and the protection of our Workers and Their/and Everyones Rights has never been so blatantly under attack. This battle/war is valuable as a rallying point for us all as it transcends the minor differences many of us have, bringing us together for our own protection. This assault against we that are considered vulnerable and expendable is so out and in our faces that just maybe, and finally, we'll gain enough strength to flip this bitch.

Unions are not concerned with religious nor ethnic differences, they are a body standing together, the little guys, a power of ones.

Vikram Chhabra (394)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:13 am
Thanks Dandelion for posting this. It is sad that these things happen.

Richard Smith (81)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:25 am
it sad it always takes blood bath war or tragic loss to open eyes.
but it seems to be the way history is written and remembered most.

Caitlin M (104)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:31 am
Kudos to just about everyone who have an opinion here. The forwarding note from Dandelion was Dandelion at her best I thought when I got it. You really are getting a great point across here as to why unions have been so important to this country. The wealthy who only want to make more money will not be contributing to the wealth of the common person without such organization to force them to recognize their duty to pay living wages. It is too much to ask for the plutocrats to value their people on any human level, but at least we should be able to collectively influence how they treat us economically. Thanks very much for the info, Dandelion.

Laurel W (23)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:47 am
Hi, Sheryl, and thank you for bringing this to our attention. Tragic though it was, us 'wage slaves' have to fight constantly still, not just for basic rights to safety, livings wages and some protection from corporate thuggery, but to stop those rights which have been hard-won already, from being grabbed back from us. Corporate bullies are constantly trying to push us further and further back into the 'dark ages', when children were sent down coal mines and were forced to work with dangerous machinery, such as cotton mills, while being worked most of the day, and paid pennies. Even where unions exist, big business is always trying to co-opt and corrupt union leaders, forcing them to betray those they supposedly represent. For the wage slave - which is most of us - it's a constant battle to just be treated like a human being, not a disposeable commodity, like a machine run to destruction, and scrapped.

Add to this, the culture in which a) ordinary working people are brainwashed into believing that equality is a bad thing, is something to be afraid of, and is called 'Communism', and b) ordinary people are brainwashed into believing that greed is good, that everyone has to look after number one, and the devil take the hindmost, and that if you are ruthless enough, selfish enough, greedy enough and determined enough, a slice of the American Dream can be yours. It's all a lie, but the truly indoctrinaged swallow it all, hook line and sinker. Those who do manage to grab a piece of the pie for themselves - enough to make them think that capitalism works, that they are doing very nicely for themselves, thank you, and that anyone who doesn't succeed is a lazy, stupid bum who is to be regarded with contempt and derision - never think how easy it might be to lose it all. All it would take, is an incurable illness...losing their job because of cutbacks, and being out of work for too long, and the bank forecloses on their homes, they're left with medical bills they have no hope of ever paying, and they're out on the street, and forced to fight for welfare. For most of us - those who are in work - we are paid barely enough to cover living expenses, and are treated like something a dog left lying on a pavement, by employers whose philosophy is, 'if you don't like it, you know what you can do. There's plenty more, where you came from'. And things are going to get worse.

What will it take, before there are riots on the streets of America? How far do people have to be pushed, before they revolt? WHERE IS THE SPIRIT THAT WON YOU THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE?

And in the UK, things are little better, but at least we have the NHS, still. That is, until the government breaks it up and sneakily sells it off bit by bit, hoping that we won't notice until it's too late.

patricia lasek (317)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:56 am
The saddest part of this story is that the corporations want to revert back to these deplorable practices.

Mandi T (366)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 10:35 am
Great story S heryl, thanks for psoting~

Brenda B (43)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 11:00 am
Kudos on such a great article! I sent you a green star for sharing this tragic event with everyone(I am not American) I did not even know about this until today when I read it. Not that I am ignorant but our education system teaches Canadian History and some global and American history but never ever this! I hope that since this tragedy there has been more awareness and advocating being done on behalf of all humans regardless of their sex, race, color, ethnicity, etc.... Again, great post!!!

Glenda J (158)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 12:15 pm
HAIL HAIL to The Unions

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 12:18 pm
Thank you all for having placed comments here and for those who may be tracking without commenting. It is my intention by placing this story here that we all be reminded of how things were and what Unions have helped move from. Are Unions perfect, no there are always problems, but I'd rather work at fixing those few problems then have no Unions.

We do not want to go back to the day when it was every individual for themselves up against the Corporate OverLord. Only by Collective Bargaining do we, the average citizen have a chance at a life that provides to us what the Founders intended, the prusuit of happiness, and a life that is valued by the Corporations. Make no mistake on this my friends, if we loose the hard earned rights to Unionize and Collective Bargain in the USA it is a slippery slope back to the days of children in sweatshops and despite working all day still not have enough money to put a proper roof over the head and feed a family.

If the Corporations destroy those rights here they will destroy them the world over. Those who are trying to gain better working conditions will be beaten back. Around the world we must stand together, and it so does please me to see signs that are made by Egyptians who say they stand with us and signs that are made in the USA that state we back you in Egypt or elsewhere. Common folk for the most part understand, but we all are in control of some Powerful force, be it the Government or the Corporations. They push and pull us in all sorts of directions and make us into enemies......this must stop, around the world.

Thank you for the Birthday wishes Carol, Mac, Jae, Agnes, Cindy, and appreciate the compliment from Caitlin.

Penelope P (222)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 12:50 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Toni because you have done so within the last week.
Will send stars to a couple of others later- I know the story

There are worse ones-Engels descriptions of Manchester are worthwhile ,so is "Eating People is Wrong" by Charles Kingsley.

Bertrand Russell said something rather apocraphal ,talking about world government
Like most thinking people he knew it was inevitable and he hoped for the sake of mankind that this almagamation took place when there were"still unions."

Russell saw Unions as the only force standing between mankind and the sixteen to eighteen hour treadmill that was the average persons working dayand still is in many places without unions now where we get our cheap electronics and clothes and household goods from.

One thing I remember reading of C19 is thaton the floor of most factories if someone fronted up with an offer to take a cheaper wage the current job incumbant was instantly dismissed and the cheaper one was installed.
in the job
That the physical state of the workers was so bad that because they were so sickly and small after living under the working conditions for a couple of generations ,the factory bosses had to recruit fresh labour from the countryside continually as the locals could not always do the job

Conditions in the clothing industry accounted for the amount of TB throughout all social classes as the workers spread it inthe clothing while they were coughing to death

The apologist for our system(Laisser Faire)currently called Globalism-Adam Smith"Wealth of Nations"
claimed that the natural tendency of all wages was to go down low enough to just provide enough for the worker and his wife to replenish the race with a couple of children and that the wages varied from country to country on the basis of the staple food .
The example he gave was Cost of staple food and therefore wages:

The lowest was China
There was also an interesting bit in the Factory Acts of the 1830's where the mill owners were claiming that the government should not form laws against 30 hour work days as that would send the mill owners broke

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 12:57 pm
Thank you Penelope for the extra input of information. Although I realize this isn't the worse case scenario, as horrific as it is, it was a catalyst in the USA to begin serious changes in work environments and the Child Labor Laws. It is also in the month of March the 100th year of this tragic fire that took so many young lives, so is why this particular story I chose to place on the news.

With attacks on Union and Laborers coming from all sorts of directions it was all the more vital that we do learn from history, we Remember well the past, and I'm glad from some of the comments that this is either new information or it instills within us the importance of this fight we are having today and to remain steadfast in our efforts.

Jon Stewart (37)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 1:23 pm
A very timely posting. I watched the PBS "American Experience" last night, too, and want to remind everyone that PBS is one of the targets of the GOP budget cuts. People need to be made aware of the importance of PBS programming and demand that funding be maintained for this. It is very telling that the GOP and their puppetmasters want this type of programming defunded. They rely on the collective amnesia of the American voters to further their divisive agenda.

Beth Tatum (95)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 1:26 pm
I saw the show on PBS last night, so tragic. More people need to be made aware of this event in our history, so that it will never be repeated again.

Robert S (111)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 1:41 pm

Judith H (27)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 1:44 pm
History is where we learn of our mistakes

Robert S (111)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 1:49 pm
Choosing Not to Forget What Is Painful to Recall
Published: March 25, 2010
On a street off Washington Square, a bell tolled 146 times on Thursday, once for each woman and man who died in the great fire there so very long ago. Dozens of schoolchildren read the names of the victims, one by one, then laid carnations upon a makeshift memorial. A fire truck raised its ladder in tribute but only so far — a reminder of a rescue effort that fell tragically short.

Children from Public School 361 watched a fire truck's ladder reach the sixth floor of a building where the Triangle shirtwaist factory stood. In 1911, the ladders could go no farther to help workers on higher floors.

Everything was as it was supposed to be, 99 years to the day since a fire at the Triangle shirtwaist factory took the lives of 146 garment workers — most of them women, most of them Jewish and Italian immigrants, most of them heartbreakingly young.

The flames that engulfed the factory, on the top three floors of a building at Washington Place and Greene Street, was the most cataclysmic disaster to befall a New York workplace until Islamist fanatics turned airplanes into missiles in 2001. But even the attacks of Sept. 11 have not diminished Triangle’s central place in the consciousness of an oft-wounded city.

Like all rituals, Thursday’s remembrance of March 25, 1911, moved to a practiced rhythm. An anniversary ceremony has been held at that corner for years. Repetition, however, in no way stole from poignancy.

There were accounts of how the low-paid seamstresses who made ladies’ blouses — shirtwaists — were trapped in the blaze. How locked doors prevented many from fleeing to safety. How the firefighters’ tallest ladder reached only to the sixth floor, well below workers trying to stave off death two, three and four floors higher. How in desperation — does this sound familiar? — many jumped to their deaths.

There were speeches from labor leaders about how the disaster led to tougher safety regulations but also about how much remains undone. Locking in workers? Wal-Mart was found to have been doing that just a few years ago. Last month, in an echo of Triangle, 21 workers in Bangladesh died in a fire at a garment factory with locked exits.

And there was the mournful tolling of a firehouse bell, each ring accompanying a name, each name capturing a soul: Lizzie Adler, Rosina Cirrito, Yetta Goldstein, Gaetana Midolo, Simie Wisotsky and, every now and then, Unidentified Woman and Unidentified Man.

New York generally prefers the future tense. It is not always good at remembering.

Sept. 11 aside, anniversaries of disasters come and go with barely a nod. Until 9/11, none was deadlier than the 1904 burning of the General Slocum, a poorly equipped excursion steamboat that caught fire in Hell Gate’s waters. More than 1,000 people died, most of them women and children. Yet the anniversary, June 15, usually passes unnoticed.

Not so with the Triangle fire. If anything, the observances have been expanding and are likely to grow still more in 2011, the centennial year. Events on Thursday included programs at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village and Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens.

The Queens event was led by Vincent Maltese, whose older brother, Serphin, is a former state senator. For them, the Triangle fire is personal. Their grandmother and her two daughters died. The girls were 18 and 14. “My grandfather never really talked about it, except once a year,” said Vincent Maltese, 76. “He’d get moody toward the end of March.”

Perhaps the fire endures in civic memory because it has clear constituencies. It is part of the Italian-American narrative and, arguably even more so, of Jewish-American history. But there is more to it, said David Von Drehle, the author of “Triangle: The Fire That Changed America.”

Triangle “speaks to large trends — the immigrant story, the progressive political story, the labor movement story and the women’s rights story,” Mr. Von Drehle said. “It’s illustrative of all those currents, which continue to be living issues in a way that steamboat safety is not.”

For similar reasons, Ruth Sergel, a filmmaker, organizes her own memorial. On the anniversary, she leads volunteers in a project called Chalk. They visit the places where each of the 146 victims lived, mostly in the East Village and on the Lower East Side. At those locations, on the pavement, they chalk in the names and ages of those who died.

“It’s the idea of making communal memory visible,” Ms. Sergel said, describing it as “a different kind of power.”

“It’s not permanent,” she said. “It washes away. But you know what? It’s going to come back next year.”

Linda h (86)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 2:11 pm
I walked by that building yesterdy and thought of those poor girls and the people all over this country trying to stand up for the unions. Thank you Robert for telling me about Ruth Sergel I'll look for the chalkings I'd never heard about that. And thank you Dandelion for putting this up.

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 2:25 pm
Thank you Robert for supplying the additional information on this story. The section of the article that stood out to me was.......

Triangle “speaks to large trends — the immigrant story, the progressive political story, the labor movement story and the women’s rights story,”

Honor their sacrifice with the standing up for the rights hard won by the millions who lived before us and who daily toil and fight for a better life for us all even today. In fact, stand up for what you yourself have fought for back in the sixties and seventies in the various social issues.

Michael C (217)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 3:10 pm
I'm a proud union menber, and I proudly stand with any Union brother, or Sister anywhere, any time...And let's never give in...God Bless the souls, who lost their lives in this fire...If they break the Unions, we'll go back to this tragic event...We cannot allow that to ever happen again...FIGHT THE POWER!!!!!

Renee A (4)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 3:12 pm
Thanks for posting this article.

John Turner (35)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 3:49 pm
Why must a tragedy always happen before safety measures are put in place? Every precaution must be taken in advance to prevent These tragic losses of life and limb from occurring.

Robert S (111)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:09 pm
And sadly after the media leaves, less is done than should be, i.e., the gulf. In the case of things like work conditions... a balance between profit and worker Safety, conditions, having a life worth living, is what brought about unions as without them no balance is achieved and all is about profit. The fact that so many in America really have no idea of what unions have done for the working class is sad and reminds me of the late shows host asking people people things they should know, but don't. One of the reasons public stations, are so important is to keep history from being lost/ rewritten. Sad that so many don't and won't know who Salk is/was, until polio makes a comeback just as greedy unrestrained capitalist power grab has, and along with it the sudden awareness of unions.

Mary M (29)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:17 pm
I was just writing about this in another blog that after this disaster is when the people asked the government to apply safety regulations on employers. Thus O.S.H.A. (Occupational Safety Hazzardous Agency.) came into being. I'm not sure exactly the time frame between the tragedy and this OSHA but it certainly has helped many employees throughout the last century get safety issues taken into account in the work place.

Kathy Javens (104)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:18 pm
Noted. This is one of the saddest and yet most angering things I have ever read. Not only were these women overworked, underpaid, not protected, but were all around treated like s**t. They were part of the driving work force of their time, and to have them lose their lives in such a horrible manner is completely and totally unacceptable. And as for the men responsible for these poor, unfortunate young womens very untimely demise, it is beyond me why they were not punished. They were literally let off the hook , and they murdered 146 innocent young women and children. I cannot think of anything accept to hope that where ever they are now, it is VERY hot.

Robert S (111)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:20 pm
By the way, Thanks Dandelion for posting this piece of history which highlights very well the hardship that has been imposed on workers throughout our history as cost cutting policy, and why workers getting together to bargain collectively (Unions) for consideration, have been and are so very important to the lives of Americans who labor.

Mary M (29)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:21 pm
Toni Clark - I can't send you another star this week, but wanted you to know I tried. I agree with your points made on these very important matters. It is scary to think they want to roll back age for children to start working. We should be putting our students ahead by keeping them in school. If the GOP want the kids in the factories, we will even have less eligible jobs for adults. Of course, they could pay children less, that's their point I guess, but what about their future, these children should be in school learning. The rest of the free world is so far advanced in teaching their kids, we don't need to go back to those old terrible days.

Robert S (111)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:29 pm
Kathy, We should ask ourselves why this story is not known by all American as it is history and a warming of what is done to those who have little voice behind the scenes, when they stand alone against moneyed interests.
The victories won by organized labor are something to be proud of and should be celebrated, but instead are often, by those in power, colored as something far left.

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:30 pm
We should be sad and angered Kathy, that those who make money off the backs of the laborers could care less if they live and die. We would like to think that everyone would have some basic compassion for their fellow man, woman, and child, but they do not.

100 years later from this tragic event the Big Business and Corporations are in hopes that few will remember how horrible life was for the average working person. They will come in the guise of sheep in wolf's clothes to try to sway, conjole, our rights away from us, when that doesn't get their way they will do whatever way works, buy out politicians, lie, steal, cheat, it matters not to them to bring the Laborer to their knees.

Look at what is going on in Wisconsin, what is being found out. They do not care for the Laborer, you are only an important person to them as a consumer and when you can't consume they find someone who can. It matters not your quality of life or if you live at all. You are very welcome Robert. I know for many it is hard to believe that people can be so callous with anothers life, but they can be, have been, and will be if allowed to do so.


Kathleen F (3)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:51 pm
No wonder the GOP wants to defund PBS. It doesn't serve the GOP agenda for us to have knowledge that makes us want to fight to keep the rights that some of our forbears died to win for us!

. (0)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 4:58 pm
Thank you Dandelion for this for Unions are really good for people. But ssshhhh!!!! Not here in nc they cring at the thought of them. I know about them for I was ALFCIO 13 in Ohio for 17 years we made parts for GE. Westinghouse refrigators the back parts of wires and coils and freezers. I was the Union President, steward, and grevience commity, theres no cutting slack for the people. Thats who we care about and there saftey. We had a pretty bad strike back in the late 70's no body went hungry, lost there homes, cars, food anything they were taken care of. They would try to bring big rigs in to the plant Nope suprise!!!! When you try to cross the pickett line it can or can't get ugly. You ask nice and most leave nice but some refuse. Nope I didn't do a thing. We fought for the Union for 6 months but, the olf farts who worked there for years when we were at a meeting one morning about half of them went back in SCABS!!!! the union was busted the plant went down with in 6 months. no union they do what they want. I agree all the way POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!!

William Y (54)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 5:00 pm
Correct Kathy F.

Henriette Matthijssen (154)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 5:06 pm
Happy Birthday Dandelion! We need to continue fighting for human rights! Power/Freedom for the working People! Only do to others, what one can easily experience themselves.

Annick Letourneau (67)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 5:48 pm
Thanks, peace & love x

David C (80)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 5:54 pm
this is a very under-reported and unknown part of our history that would make people sit up and think about worker/employer relations if it was better known.

growing up a friend of my grandparents was an older lady "Bessie" and she survived this fire...I only learned that years later when I read her obituary...I know she was one of the last survivors and maybe the last....I wish I had known more about this and asked more of the history of this event...

Debbie Hogan (115)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 7:14 pm
Horrible thing, isn't it, that it always seems to take a devastating tragedy such as this for "lawmakers" to wake up and make a change...

Debbie Hogan (115)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 7:15 pm
A very informative website on a tragedy that was not so widely publicised...Indeed, a strong argument for a union...

Edith B (146)
Tuesday March 1, 2011, 9:16 pm
Thank you for posting this article. I posted it to Facebook, to share with friends who have forgotten how important the unions were to our fathers who worked in the coal industry. My grandfather was one of those who marched in Washington, D.C. to help start the United Mine Workers of America. We have only to watch the news about Wisconsin to see what is being done to unions today. When they are gone those people who have comfy,white collar jobs will be wishing for them back when their benefits are stripped away, too.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 12:27 am
I certainly remember learning about this in History class. We must never forget the lessons of the past.

Shaheen N (64)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 1:12 am
Thanks Sheryl for the post & thanks Marthe for the forward.

Arild Gone for now (174)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 4:09 am
Thanks for the post Dandelion,it's good to be reminded of these happenings.

Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 5:53 am
As William agreed; you hit the nail on the head as they say Kathy. One must always look deeper as to why a certain programs are wanting to be cut by them.

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 7:02 am

Wow, Sheryl. Just by coincidence, I watched the re-airing of the program myself in the wee hours this morning. Well-made, factual, and deeply disturbing. (I am still picturing the horror of those trapped in the burning building who could not escape due to a locked door and fire ladders that were too short.)


Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 7:30 am
I am glad you got to view it Carole as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Having been the only survivor myself inside a burning building I had a struggle to stick with the program, it touched real close to a personal experience, but thankful, I was able to work through it being over 30 years ago.

My heart ached with great pain on the part of the woman who managed to get inside the last elevator only to see her own sister go up in flames in front of her eyes, a sister who had not managed to make it into the last ride to safety. It took me years to soften the screams in my mind of those who were suffering a similar fate in the building I was in, until I heard no more screaming just the roar of the flames all around. If I think to hard on it I will hear all of it again, so I do not allow my mind to go there. I can only imagine what the living sister went through her entire life having seen that image of her sister along with the other sights and sounds she had to endure.

To know these men served no time for their neglect upon these workers is as bad as the action itself. Bastards who cared only that they might loose a bit of thread or a few pieces of cloth, had locked these women into a coffin.

Dan(iel) M (25)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 9:18 am
I to watched the documentary on PBS. A very sad story. And to think the owners just collected their insurance money and walked away.Thanks for posting Dandelion.
Have to agree with other postees that this was very appropriate in light of what is transpiring in Wisconsin and in other states. Without collective bargaining these conditions could sadly return.

Krasimira B (175)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 11:08 am
I just watched the documentary on TV (for second time). The owners are criminals. A very sad story... Thank you Dandelion and Marsha for sharing.

Krasimira B (175)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 11:12 am
You cannot currently send a star to Dandelion because you have done so within the last week.

Robert S (111)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 2:45 pm

Cheryl B (206)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 3:47 pm
Thank you so much, Dandelion, for bringing this to light again. I've read about it in years past but I've never had this much information, nor all the names of the victims. I have spent the last two days reading everything I could -- in between doing the other things one has to do in a day. I read the names of each victim, trying to imagine what their lives were like. Here is one excerpt that cuts to the heart of the deplorable conditions at that time:

"Ninety-nine per cent of the shops were found to be defective in respect to safety: 14 had no fire escapes; 101 had defective drop ladders; 491 had only one exit; 23 had locked doors during the day; 58 had dark hallways; 78 had obstructed approaches to fire escapes; and 1,172, or 94 per cent, had doors opening in instead of out.
Only one had ever had a fire drill.

McKeon found that the door to the Washington Place stairway was "usually kept locked," and was told this was because "it was difficult to keep track of so many girls."

Can you imagine working by gaslight for perhaps 9-10 hours a day, including weekends, and being locked into an airless crowded room during that time? I almost get a panic attack just thinking about it.

Thank God for the courage and bravery of all who have brought about the unions and labour laws. It hasn't been easy. We must never forget this horrific tragedy because there are still places today that do not safeguard their employees.


Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 4:53 pm
Thank you Cheryl for taking time to go over the posting as it really did include a lot of information. I did the very same thing and feel that in my own way I was Honoring those who perished so long ago. They were not 100 years later forgotten, what they did to try to make better working conditions was not forgotten. 99% of the shops as you pointed out were defective to safety and if the workers, the laborers, had not stood up and taken a stand we'd still all be working in those same conditions today. If we do not stand firm the Corporations would have us going back to working in unsafe conditions, and they allow safety to slip all the time in various jobs like mining for one.

Robert thank you for the additional information.

Linda h (86)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 5:00 pm
Please remember that on September 3, 1991 in Hamlet, North Carolina at the Hamlet chicken factory they worked with locked fire doors, had no inspections for years and they died once again. The bosses were afraid someone would take home some chicken.

Robert S (111)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 5:17 pm

Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 5:43 pm
Mary Domsky-Abrams
Job: Blouse Operator
9th floor
Interview date unknown

That spring of 1911 we mourned our dead comrades, the victims of a society which was concerned only with the profits of an individual and not with the welfare of the many, of the working masses. The Triangle victims were martyrs in the fight for social justice, and the labor movement will always remember them as those who, with their young lives, paved the way for a better world with a more just society, a world free from exploitation, in which equal rights for all will be respected.


Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday March 2, 2011, 6:08 pm
1991......afraid they'd loose a couple chickens. Lives of humans are valued less than a few chickens. So sad.

Ancil S (175)
Thursday March 3, 2011, 12:41 am
Thanks for posting this historic article.It is so very important to remember the past,for if not,we are doomed to repeat it.

Ramona Thompson (210)
Saturday March 5, 2011, 2:47 pm
I was told of this great disaster by my grandparents when I was a child. I cannot imagine the horrors and pains each victim and their families suffered.

Yes, there is a move to re-write history. Doing away with public radio and television is a method towards that goal. There are those who would not want us to remember this tragedy, the deaths, the reasons because they are busily working to disassemble the safety measures implemented to make work places safer.

I wanted to take time to look through the site, to read the victims names, and recall information since I was told so many years ago about what happened. It is as shocking to me now, as it was then.

Song Bird, I know what it is like in your location. People between where you and I are, have been beaten, raped, killed, and literally run out of town on a rail and tarred and feathered for complaining over unsafe work conditions. I respect you Song Bird for sharing your experience. I know it's not been easy.

Sheryl thank you so much for sharing this with us and to each who commented and provided more information and links, I thank you.

Thank you who mentioned the 2 little children who died because of the firestation brown outs. We must remain vigilant. No matter if those of opposing views do not understand, or if they want to cast stones or whatever.

We will never lose sight of the Triangle Factory Fire, and they will not understand this is part of why we hold to our opposing views.

Carmen S (69)
Saturday March 5, 2011, 8:39 pm
What a tragady and they want to bring us back to those days.
We must never forget what the Unions did for the working people.

Jeanette Laing (7)
Sunday March 6, 2011, 3:02 pm
When money is scarce, a lot of people with power and wealth see this as an opportunity to put pressure on others to impliment their agendas. The Unions in every country are needed to protect peoples rights even more at these times. This is not the time to loose the power of unions, unfortunately many big businesses priority is not human rights but profit, which as history proves is dangerous. This is already in evidence with big sporting companies exploiting cheap child labour in Asian countries.

Sheryl G (359)
Sunday March 6, 2011, 3:18 pm
I agree Jeanette, and our Country that is suppose to be about Human Rights needs to stop importing goods from places that exploit children and has unsafe working conditions for every worker. This Country knows who they are, I'm not taking that the Powers to be on this are ignorant.

Heidi D (28)
Tuesday March 8, 2011, 9:39 am
I watched this documentary the other day. What I found sickening was that the owners who were the cause of so many deaths were never held responsible, they just took their insurance payout and walked away rich men.

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday March 8, 2011, 9:57 am
This is what we must continue to remember Heidi. Those who live by seeing $ signs alone as being valuable do not give a care on the human being. It was that way back then, it is that way today. We must stand up for ourselves, to demand respect, for them to value us as humans. Otherwise we will be right back to the same conditions, and it is slipping back all the time.

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 17, 2011, 12:01 am
Thank you for sharing this with us - who here in the UK have not heard of this before. So very tragic.
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