Friday, March 24, 2006

Triangle Shirtwaist, In Memorium

Today, Nerds attended a city-wide labor rally held in honor of the 147 people (mostly Italian and Jewish immigrant girls and young women) who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire 95 years ago. These deaths would have largely been prevented if basic safety precautions had been taken, such as keeping all exit doors unlocked, having sturdy fire escapes, and having sprinkler systems.

The building in which the factory was housed is now an NYU classroom building. NYU frequently refers to the tragic story of the building in alumni newsletters and documents about campus history, often using the occasion to highlight NYU's supposed commitment to progressive politics and workers' rights. But as so many speakers at today's event pointed out, that only heightens the irony as NYU continues to deny the workers of GSOC our own labor rights.

The rally and memorial was organized by UNITE-HERE, and labor activists from that union as well as GSOC, the NYC Teachers' Union, and the TWU spoke alongside elected officials about the importance of a strong labor movement for protecting workers' rights and workers' lives. Our struggle got shout-outs and support from Unite-Here!, from Roger Toussaint of the TWU, and from Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council--and many GSOCers were there with banners and signs to make sure that the assembled crowd of NYU personnel; curious passersby; union members from AFT, TWU, UNITE-HERE, SEIU, and the Firefighters Union; and lots of New York City public school children knew about our cause.

For more information on the fire and the changes in the legal and regulatory environment surrounding the workplace, visit the excellent exhibit from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.


Anonymous ex classicist on strike said...

you mean "In Memoriam."

3/24/2006 6:47 PM  

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