We Commemorate the Workers Killed at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire -- 113 Years Ago

MARCH 25 -- Today marks the 113th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in Greenwich Village in 1911. It was the greatest industrial disaster in the history of the city, causing the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and girls and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, falling, or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Italian or Jewish immigrant women and girls.

Because the doors to the stairwells and exits were locked – a common practice at the time to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and to reduce theft – many of the workers could not escape from the burning building and jumped from the high windows. There were no sprinklers in the building. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers. It paved the way for safety rules and fire regulations which have protected millions of workers to date.

Remembering the tragic fire and the union's vital role in protecting workers, we say along with Mother Jones: Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.