Home » Uncategorized » Triangle Remembered: Unions, Worker’s Rights, Fair Trade.

Triangle Remembered: Unions, Worker’s Rights, Fair Trade.

100 years ago today, 146 workers lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. This tragedy helped give rise to organizations such as International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which I’ve mentioned before, in my first post. Unions were already coming into the scene at that time, but the fire brought attention to a lot of the problems laborers faced, which helped the cause and brought about better safety standards in the workplace.

In my last post, I shared with you an article addressing the origins of our clothes… and it has been on my mind since I posted it. A lot of the problems that led to the Triangle fire continue to go on to this day in garment shops around the world in developing countries. This past December, a similar fire broke out at a garment shop in Bangladesh, killing more than 30 workers. Furthermore, “according to Bangladesh’s Fire Service and Civil Defence Department, 414 garment workers lost their lives in 213 factory fires between 2006 and 2009.” (1)

Unions are important!

…And we really do need to take a stand against companies that make their money by abusing people like this. I do the bulk of my shopping at second hand stores, such as Goodwill, and I try to buy handmade when I can. Every once in awhile I slip and don’t pay attention, but as a general rule, I try to.

My mind has more or less been reeling for the past few weeks, pulling in everything I have been reading/ hearing/watching lately.. I’ve been trying to follow what’s been going on in Wisconsin, and I know the rest of the US is keeping an eye on it. Last I had heard, the Governor signed a bill to pass a law to limit collective bargaining rights, but judge blocked it from being published.  ::shakes head::  There is some worry that if Wisconsin manages to strip worker’s rights away, other states will follow suit.

If you’re so inclined, I encourage you to listen to today’s newscast from Democracy Now! It’s well worth listening to, especially the discussion which starts around 22:54 and goes to the end.

Also, for those interested, here are a few links for getting your hands on some cool fair trade products:

Recycled Silk Yarns – “fairly traded hand spun recycled silk sari yarn is made by a women’s collective group in Nepal”

Ten Thousand Villages – I first came across this store in ’06, shortly after moving to Champaign, IL for college. Beautiful handcrafted items!

The Fair Trade Federation – You can search for fair trade companies around the world, by country or by product.

Also, check out your local shops, artisans and farmers markets. Fair trade is certainly good, but local is best (this does not mean your local Wal-Mart, but rather, the Mom and Pop shops), if you can find what you want/need.


1) Chan, John and W.A. Sunil. “Factory fire and police killings fuel discontent among Bangladeshi garment workers”. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/bang-d16.shtml

2) Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/shows/2011/3/25 March 25, 2011 show.

3)  Aljazeera. “Deaths in Bangladesh factory fire”.  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/12/2010121410476480785.html

4) The New York Times. “Ask About Labor Laws and Unions in the Fire’s Wake”. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/ask-about-labor-laws-and-unions-in-the-fires-wake/

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