Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Anniversary and the BP Oil Spill Aftermath

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Today is the 102nd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory catastrophe. Bridge the Gulf’s Cherri Foytlin, who attended our Forum last winter, coined a beautiful piece that draws from the lessons of organizing in the aftermath of the disaster, leading to the implementation of factory labor safety standards. She discusses the trials that followed the catastrophe and how those in charge of the factory were held responsible. As a result, she questions how well modern day corporations ensure public and worker safety, issues that were raised after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy on March 25, 1911.

“Although the managers were acquitted of charges of manslaughter, it was the civil trial that exposed the practice of obstructing worker safety in service to corporate profit. That trial essentially altered the history of factory labor safety standards in the United States.

 And now, here in the year 2013, we find ourselves once again at the pinnacle of decisions concerning what we will expect from a corporation, and a whole industry, regarding worker and public safety.”

She points out that we stand in a similar moment in time in the wake of the BP Oil Disaster, as those suffering from the many impacts of BP’s commitment to profit over humanity demand a full civil trial and full disclosure of facts.

“Just like those who battled for worker rights after the garment fire, we must stand now and demand a full civil trial, with full disclosure of the facts, surrounding the BP Deepwater Drilling Disaster.”

Read more from Cherri Foytlin on the parallels between these two disasters here.

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