What has really changed in the century since the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire? Not enough! . . . as I hope to show in my new short documentary Triangle's Echoes: the Unfinished Struggle for Worker Protection, Safety, and Health. From the huge protests of public workers on the streets of Wisconsin and Ohio, to the half-million children who labor in our fields, to the chicken factory employees who burned to death behind locked doors, far too many Americas in our times echo the Triangle seamstresses in their struggles, their pain, and their completely preventable deaths.
Some 5,000 people still die on the job in our country and 50,000 die slowly from occupational exposures to toxic chemicals.
Meanwhile some on the right want to eliminate child labor laws and drastically cut funding for OSHA, the agency within the Department of Labor that is credited with saving over 400,000 lives since its creation forty years ago.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the billionaire Koch brothers would have us believe that improving the laws on workplace safety would be a job killer. But unregulated, unchecked, out of control corporations like BP and Massey are people killers.
The answer -- in 2011 just as in 1911 -- is building the power of organized people to push back against the power of organized money.
The National Consumer's League supported the production of Triangle's Echoes," and along with a coalition of labor, consumer, and environmental groups, they have issued a call to action on workplace safety. Find out more at http://www.nclnet.org/
Special thanks go to United Support Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and the International Associaiton of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.