Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Part 1

 I am going to attempt to give a bit of a back story of the Triangle fire.

 With all the union problems going on in today's world, we need to stop and remember the brave and selfless workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It was on this day, March 25,1911  a 100 years ago that a fire started in a rag bin causes the deadliest industrial accident in New York history. And the 4th highest loss of  life from an industrial accident in American history.

  In the fall of 1909 in New York city a general strike was called for among factory workers. Of those 20,000  plus workers that went on strike, 4/5 were women. The strike was at one time limited to one company that went onto become the first large scale strike of women workers most being immigrants, in American history. Even though a settlement of a slight wage increase was made, the union's call for increased fire safety was not. With tragic results as it's consequence. 

The Triangle Shirtwaist factory was at the Asch Building at 29 Washington Place in Lower Manhattan and its owners  were Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, immigrants themselves from Russia. They met in the United States and opened up the first shop,  the Triangle Waist Company on Woodster Street in 1900. The business grew quickly and they relocated to the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street. Expanding to the 8th floor, 9th  and then the 10th floor. Even though it was a sweatshop, the Triangle was a highly desired place to work because it was a modern facility by comparison to other factories. With its big windows and high ceilings it was a dream compared to the coal heated stove and dusty, crowded sweatshops.But even if working there was a comparable dream job, sewing machine operators worked 14 hour days for $2 a day. Then the bosses deducted pay for the use of electricity, needles and thread. Also the big machines would not work right and the needle would skip and the worker would get blamed. All it was was "Shirtwaists, Shirtwaist, and more shirtwaists". 

My brains becoming a bit fuddled so I think I'll stop for now.I'm sorry if this is not going as fast as one would hope (mainly myself) but please try and stay with me.     Misha

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