March 25th is the anniversary of the 1911 Triangle Shirt Waist Company fire. The fire was the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City, killing one-hundred and forty-three people, mostly immigrant women and young girls, age thirteen to twenty-three. They were working in sweatshop conditions, locked inside the building by the company owners in order to prevent QUOTE-UNQUOTE “the interruption of work”. This was a common practice, which continues today in parts of the world.
The Triangle fire was a turning point for the labor movement in the United States and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.
One hundred years later, at a factory in Bangladesh, workers were killed in a fire because they were locked inside.
Here is an audio excerpt from the video Triangle Shirtwaist Fire : The race to the bottom — which commemorates the one-hundredth anniversary while confronting labor exploitation in today’s globalized economy. This video is narrated by Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Labor and Human Rights.
2:32 – 2:45 Minutes – NARRATION : “Race to the Bottom”
5:11 – 5:14 Minutes – NARRATION : “The Global Sweatshop Economy”