CSA Participates in the 107th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
March 25 marked the 107th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, and several hundred people showed up at the corner in the West Village where the disaster occurred. The fire claimed the lives of 146 people, most of them young Italian and Jewish immigrant women who either died trapped in the inferno because of locked doors, or after they jumped to the sidewalks several stories below.
The tragedy resulted in a surge of unionism and a host of laws intended to protect workers’ rights. Frances Perkins, the nation’s first secretary of labor, said the event helped provoke the creation of the New Deal.
This year’s service was particularly poignant: The night before, a Harlem fire claimed the life of 15-year NY Fire Department veteran Michael Davidson, who was pulled from the 5-alarm fire in critical condition and later succumbed to his injuries at Harlem Hospital.
As they do for every Shirtwaist memorial, CSA members and staff attended the memorial, led by CSA Retiree Chapter Political Liaison Mitra Lutchman. Several political and labor leaders addressed the crowd and read the names of each of the victims.
“One-hundred seven years ago, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire struck the labor community and our great City,” New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the crowd. “When we remember the workers who were killed, what we are remembering is the struggle to fight for justice for working women and men. Now today, we remember and honor all of those victims, mostly immigrant women. And in remembering them, we are reminded that New York City continues to be the home for immigrant women. It is their dreams and hopes that we must carry on.”
The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, which organizes the memorial, offers public schools a variety of educational opportunities to help students learn the story of the tragedy, the evolution of the labor movement, and the history of New York City. For more information, go to the resources section of www.rememberthetrianglefire.org.