Triangle Shirtwaist Fire at 97; March 20, 2008, Noon, Washington Place.
This Thursday, March 20, 2008, people will gather at Washington Place & Greene Street and remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire which took place 97 years ago. In that fire (which actually occurred on March 25, 1911) 146 people mostly women and children of Manhattanâ€™s Lower East Side died in a horrific factory fire. (Did you want to know more or review the events? Cornellâ€™s ILR school has a great link & photo filled web site . Read also
M. Patricia Smith, NYS Labor Commissionerâ€™s statement .)
Sponsored by the United Hebrew Trades/Jewish Labor Committee the event this Thursday will remember the fallen and the struggles for workplace safety of the past.
But we can and should do more. You may have noticed that people are dying on the job all over NYC. Widely reported and difficult to ignore was the Manhattan crane collapse which killed seven last Friday. The deaths of Victor & Carlos Diaz at North East Linen and the 47 storey fall of window washers Edgar & Alcides Moreno in December were earlier tragedies in what has become a persistent parade of worker deaths. Many of these deaths occurs in the red-hot NYC construction industry where time is money. While Mayor Bloomberg visits many of the death sites looking grave and while his Buildings Commissioner is widely described as capable, NYC continues what is â€“ in effect â€“ a laissez-faire policy toward construction. These deaths are widely and falsely described as â€œaccidents.â€
There is nothing accidental about them. They are predictable and preventable. They should be prevented. Jim Dwyerâ€™s excellent report of an utterly overwhelmed Buildings Dept is a good place to begin the discussion. (See also these DOB critiques from, among others, Scott Stringer and Tony Avella via Newsday )
Under President Bush, former Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg workplace safety and health are at the bottom of governmentâ€™s priority. The issues are complex and the institutions which need to be moved intransigent. Preventing construction deaths will cost construction corporations and real estate developers money. (More reportage on NYC construction deaths try Jonathan Tasini's blog here here ; Gothamist's coverage (w/links to more) is here. For more detailed Construction Safety & Health info than most of us can use try here )
In the words of Mother Jones, as we remember the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory martyrs â€œwe should â€œpray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.â€