The Triangle Fire: A Brief History with Documents Analysis

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:History

Document 1

They gathered their belongings, and some changed their attires and were on their way out when the fire was discovered on the eighth floor. 180 workers scrambled to find an exit. However, workers on the 9th floor were not aware of the fire until it engulfed them. The factory was packed with dozens of workers alongside highly flammable materials. By then, the firefighting equipment only reached a maximum height of the sixth floor leaving the rest of the floors vulnerable to such a disaster. ” The above quote is the actual description of the women workers who worked at the Triangle factory. The owner Max Blanck and Isaac Harris preferred them over men on accounts that they were less involved in unions and thus they were susceptible to manipulation and oppression.

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Also, the lack of education and language skills limited their opportunities giving the companies an opportunity to exploit them. The low social, economic status of the workers was also a concern for the employers, they were “searched like thieves (p. 11)” at the exit points, and this was the reason why the building had only one exit. …workers stack upon each other and combustible piles of rags and cutting - all made conditions hazardous and unhealthy. The owners, Blanck and Harris, early earned a reputation for pushing their workers to their limit and threatened them against joining their union (p. ” The above is a description of a typical workday in the factories. All efforts were geared towards optimizing the space utilization and the output.

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Workers issues such as safety and healthy living were not a concern for the employers. But in the end, the ability to come from home and earn was a rare privilege and women embraced the opportunity in spite of the fact that the bosses referred to them as “these working girls. ” The owners of the company had some roles to play in ensuring that the safety and welfare of the employees were put in place. As the author noted, harsh economic times forced the owners to institute changes that will reduce their financial exposure by subcontracting the work to others referred to as bosses. “They hired contractors or the bosses and paid them fixed rates for the production of a certain number of shirtwaists.

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The contractors then hired the workers, mostly immigrant women and girls, and paid them from the amount they received from the owners (p. The owners were hostile to the workers who joined unions or strike and the city officials aided the in suppressing the will of the workers. The insurance companies were eager to compensate the owners at the expense of the employees who suffered damages (p. Rose Schneiderman became a voice to the victims. She advocated for political changes that would see the workers enjoy better working conditions. She was working with the Red Cross in delivering the sad news to the family members in the slums and villages where the workers had come from. It called for a concerted effort from the government, the civil society, and the workers in the zeal to unite and create the safer working environment.

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