Posts Tagged ‘unions’

How to Celebrate Labor Day: Sit in the High Seats

Issue 106 — September 2, 2019 Are you one of the 46 percent of Americans who’ll barbecue over Labor Day weekend? Will it be ribs, hot dogs, burgers, or veggies? Or will you be one of the 25 percent who’ll be shopping? Google “Labor Day” and the majority of top hits involve Labor Day sales. These and other…

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Burning Women: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Illuminates Wisconsin Union-Busting

Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

The Triangle Waist Company, site of the fire that fanned the U.S. union movement into full flame, was housed, ironically, in the Asch Building.

On Saturday, March 25, 1911, it became an inferno, snuffing out the lives of 146 employees, mostly women, primarily immigrants, about two-thirds Jewish and one-third Italians, over one-half of them teenagers. Many were girls as young as twelve or thirteen years old. Child labor was routine at the time, as was weekend work.

Triangle’s owners, Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, placed immense pressure on he women to force their treadle sewing machines, like racehorses in their final lap, to produce women’s shirtwaist garments ever-faster. Their goal, not surprisingly, was to raise the factory’s profitability in an increasingly competitive field.

The Asch Building stood in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. Triangle Waist Company, a million dollar a year business, was one of the best-equipped factories of its day. Still, it was a horrible sweatshop with few safety provisions and almost no protections for workers against unfairly low pay, discrimination, sexual harassment, and certainly no paid sick leave, health insurance, or vacation.

Precautions against fire consisted of twelve red buckets of water.

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