Secretary Solis: Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Today, as part of Women’s History Month and in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, Valerie Jarrett and I welcomed four remarkable women organizers to the White House.  On a panel in front of more than 100 labor leaders, we invited them to share how each is organizing to make a difference in their workplaces, in their communities and in the lives of their families.

On March 25, 1911,146 garment workers – mostly young women and girls – either burned or jumped to their deaths when a fire ignited at the Triangle Factory in New York City.  Within 18 minutes, due to hazardous working conditions, these workers were dead.  A century later, the fire resonates with us, not only because of the magnitude of the tragedy, but also because it was a galvanizing moment for women standing up to demand better working conditions, safer workplaces, and the right to have their voices heard.

In communities across the country, courageous women are still standing up for those same things.  And today, a select few of them gave us a glimpse into their lives and invited us into their struggles.  From a child care worker in Ohio, to a nanny in New York, these women are fighting not only for a voice – they’re fighting for dignity and respect.

We were honored to have heard the hopeful stories of these brave women.  They were a reminder of the obstacles that must be overcome in the workplace and of the very hard work we still have to do on behalf of all working people.

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