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UFCW Commemorates the Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

March 25, 2022

One hundred eleven years ago, on March 25, 1911, a fire spread in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City killing 146 workers.1 The factory workers, “mostly young female immigrants from Europe working long hours for low wages, died because of inadequate safety precautions and lack of fire escapes”.2 As the building had only one fire escape and management regularly locked the doors to prevent workers from leaving and theft, this tragedy could have been preventable if safety features had not been neglected.3

Prior to the fire, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) tried to organize workers in the clothing trade such as Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory, but given the anti-union sentiment and fear of reprisals, these efforts weren’t successful,  allowing the owners to continue to impose unsafe working conditions.4

The tragedy sparked widespread public outrage at the dangerous working conditions in sweatshops and support for stronger safety measures.The following year, the state of New York enacted laws that strengthened labor protections, which later served as a footprint for federal regulations in the New Deal legislation, including the National Labor Relations Act.5

As we honor the victims of the fire, UFCW reaffirms its commitment to stand up for workers’ rights and ensure that our members are protected against unsafe working conditions. 


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