Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire
The Fight for Worker Protections Continues: Learning from the Triangle Fire
On the eve of March 25, 1911, a fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City took the lives of 146 young immigrant workers—all but 23 of them young women. The fire broke out on the 8th floor of the building and spread quickly. When factory workers tried to get out of the burning building, they faced locked exits. Some tried running to the fire escape, which led nowhere, and collapsed under their weight. Others tried an exit on the 9th floor, only to find it locked, while those who waited at the windows for firefighters found that the ladders were too short to reach them. Left with few options, many jumped to their deaths. Following the fire, a trial let the owners go without penalty. However, many believed that the owners had deliberately locked the exits in an effort to prevent workers from stealing materials. The victims of this tragedy were, in large part, young workers who had recently emigrated from Europe, seeking greater opportunities in the United States. Quite the opposite, they found jobs that forced them to endure poverty, horrifying working conditions, and daily exploitation.
As we remember the unconscionable working conditions that led to the exploitation and loss of so many lives, we must remember that even a century later, immigrants and workers of color are still facing unsafe working conditions that threaten their lives and health, while unscrupulous employers continuously rob them of their hard-earned wages. It is up to us, as advocates for workers’ rights, to keep fighting for just and safe workplaces. Failure to learn from this tragedy endangers the lives and working conditions of all workers.
Join Workers United – official commemoration
March 25th, 2011
New York City
For More information about the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire click here