Tag Archives: workers’ rights

102 Years After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: What Have We Learned?

Sophie Gerson. Credit: The Gerson Family

Sophie Gerson. Credit: The Gerson Family.

My Grandma Sophie taught me the importance of standing up against people who take advantage of others. Her activism—and that of her allies in the labor movement—inspired me to dedicate my life to advocating for people who are disenfranchised, marginalized, or rendered invisible. As a little girl, I remember hearing about how my grandmother, a textile union organizer, was arrested, framed and almost deported because she wouldn’t stop speaking out for worker justice. I remember being electrified by my grandmother’s stories about fighting corrupt bosses and profit-hungry factory owners.

But no story from that era was more shocking to me than the terrible Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911.

In that tragic, preventable disaster, 146 women—mostly Jewish and Italian immigrants—perished after being trapped inside. The manager had locked all the doors and exits. Read More »

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My Summer at Pursue: It’s what you do, not what you think…right?

Originally posted on Pursue: Action for a Just World.

Chloe Zelkha, 2011 AJWS intern with Pursue

At school, we always complain that we’re not doing anything. In my classes, we study feminist theory, race theory, queer theory, postcolonial theology, postmodernist thought, liberatory pedagogy; an alphabet soup of academic jargon about justice. But what’s missing, we object, is action. So we work to reform our college policies, classes, and culture, offering peer education classes, bringing speakers to talk about social change, facilitating discussions on race, gender, class – but still, it doesn’t seem like the “real world.” It’s still isolated and primarily academic, and in between trying to change real systems, we’re spending a whole lot of time writing papers.

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