A note on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

A note on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

Because Friday evening is a good time to take a moment to reflect and take a longer view, I'd like to say a few words about something I've been thinking about a lot today.

100 years ago today, in a building off Washington Square, 146 Jewish and Italian immigrant seamstresses died because their employer cared more about a few extra pennies of profit than about their lives. The tragedy sparked a movement for the rights of workers that helped bring many of the legal protections and safety standards that we take for granted today. I’m proud to be helping commemorate the anniversary, as the co-host of a event tomorrow night at Workman’s Circle, which has been leading the struggle that was sparked there for over 100 years.

Unfortunately, 100 years later, we’ve still got a long way to go, as this article by NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman eloquently states, with abuses still costing workers' lives and health in accidents in coal mines, oil rigs, and right here in New York. The collective bargaining rights of workers are under attack in states around the country, and in the House of Representatives. I’m proud to have been a supporter this past year of new legislation that protect the rights of workers, including the Wage Theft Prevention Act, and the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. And I plan to keep pushing until all workers in NYC have at least a few paid sick days, and our tax subsidy dollars are only used on jobs that pay a living wage. I hope we’ll use the anniversary to recommit ourselves to making to possible for all workers to earn enough to support their families, and to do it in safe and fair workplaces.