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    Posted March 24, 2011

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What the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Means For Workers Now

Centennial Rally to Commemorate Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Friday, March 25, 2011
11 am to 1 pm - Rally at Washington Place and Greene Streets
Look for the Equity banner
More info: www.rememberthetrianglefire.org

By Hilda L. Solis, US Secretary of Labor
Published in the Washington Post, Friday March 18

A century ago this week, in Lower Manhattan, a young social worker named Frances Perkins was having tea at the Greenwich Village townhouse of her friend, the socialite Margaret Morgan Norrie. They were interrupted by clanging fire truck bells. Then they heard the anguished screams: “Don’t jump!”

They raced out of the townhouse and ran toward the commotion: a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, just off Washington Square. Flames and black smoke shot from the top floors, and as they watched in shock, young girls and women, some alone, some clutching hands, inched up to the windows’ ledges — and jumped to their deaths.

Perkins would describe the scene in lectures later: “They couldn’t hold on any longer. There was no place to go. The fire was between them and any means of exit. It’s that awful choice people talk of — what kind of choice to make?” She added: “I shall never forget the frozen horror that came across as we stood with our hands on our throats watching that horrible sight, knowing that there was no help.”

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