Friday, March 25, 2011

Indiana Boilermaker tells his daughters of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100 years later and why unions still matter

I drove a Boilermaker and his Indiana family with two girls, 5th and 7th grade, past the FrancEs Perkins Dept. of Labor Building yesterday. Frances E. Perkins was Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Sec. of Labor for 12 years and helped during the last Depression to create Social Security, minimum wage and other worker's rights.

As a young social worker in 1911 she happened to be nearby and was shocked when young Italian and other immigrant women jumped out of the burning Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building several floors to their death because management had chained the escape doors shut. The union father told the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire beautifully. These stories need to be told and re-told. We all forget.

The Washington Post has an editorial that ends today, the 100th anniversary of this fire where 146 women were burned or jumped to their death, with refutation of worker's rights rollbacks, "Such complaints, of course, are with us still. We hear them from mine operators after fatal explosions, from bankers after they’ve crashed the economy, from energy moguls after their rig explodes or their plant starts leaking radiation. We hear them from politicians who take their money. We hear them from Republican members of Congress and from some Democrats, too. A century after Triangle, greed encased in libertarianism remains a fixture of — and danger to — American life. " 

The Indiana Boilermaker was here to try to educate Congress. He told the story passionately, perhaps because he feels he is reliving it?


No comments:

Post a Comment