A Women's History Month Special
Out of the Flames, From The Ashes: TheTriangle Shirtwaist Fire & Its Legacy
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Fire - March 25, 1911
Tune into our tapestry of archival sound, re-enactments – a docudrama of the “flowering girls” who lost their lives in the Triangle Fire, on this hundredth anniversary, of one of the most important events in the history of the labor movement. Threaded through the sound tapestry are the haunting voices from the fire intermingled with the poetry and songs that arose in the wake of the tragedy. Another thread of the tapestry are the voices of scholar/activists who deliberate on the legacy of Triangle for today - to organize and unionize, to regulate the workplace and create a safe, decent life for working people, to attend to the problems today sadly echoing the conditions at the time of the Triangle Fire. This is a drama of the dilemmas faced by working women, their pathos, & the importance of the fire, in the annals of workers’ history - “not to mourn, but to organize.”
A fire broke out on the top three stories of a relatively new building just east of
Washington Square Park, which housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, a
large manufacturer of women’s clothes (a building which today houses New York University classrooms). Though the building was modern and advertised as fire-proof, the cramped layout of the factory space, large piles of flammable materials, locked doors by the employers, an inadequate fire escape, and the inability of New York City fire truck ladders to reach high enough to rescue the people trapped by the flames led to a staggering loss of life. All told, 146 workers died that day, mostly women workers, many still in their teens, some as young as fourteen, killed by the fire or their desperate leaps to the ground to escape the suffocating smoke, the heat and flames. It is the largest industrial tragedy in the history of New York City.
After the fire, & the outraged voices of community residents, workers, labor activists, New York State passed a series of new laws regulating factory safety which, along with unionization,gradually eliminated the worst conditions workers faced. These efforts would reach fruition in the New Deal, in many respects the creation of the coalition of forces that came togetherin the aftermath of the TriangleFire.
If Triangle is an old story, one about a century ago, it is also a very current story. While the U.S. was successful, at least for a while, in eliminating the worst abuses of the sweatshop era and improving the lives of its working people, there are millions of workers today who face conditions not unlike those faced by the Triangle workers. What people sometimes refer to as the global sweatshop is a vast archipelago of workplaces, in many of which young female workers toil long hours in dangerous conditions, very often without union representation or any rights.
WHO WE ARE
WORKERS OF THE WORLD TUNE IN! Introducing "Building Bridges: Your Community & Labor Report"
Our beat is the labor front, broadly defined, both geographically and conceptually. We examine the world of work and workers on the job as well as where they live. We examine the issues that affect their everyday lives, with a particular sensitivity towards human rights abuses, environmental concerns and the U.S. drive for global domination. We record their global struggles and provide analysis of their efforts to empower themselves and transform society to provide greater democratic, human, social, political and economic rights. Each program consists of feature stories, generally interviews, within a historical context, often accompanied by sound from demonstrations, rallies or conferences, and complemented and enhanced by poetry and instrumental or vocal -- people's culture.
Over the years Building Bridges has produced a weekly one hour program, Mondays from 7-8 PM EST, covering local, national and international labor and community issues over radio WBAI-Pacifica 99.5 FM in New York. We also produce half hour version, Building Bridges National, which is distribtued to over 40 broadcast and internet radio stations.
For more information you can contact us at email@example.com
In Struggle Mimi Rosenberg & Ken Nash Follow @bbridgesradio
A Women's History Month Special