Triangle Factory Laws

Triangle Factory Laws

The tragic Triangle Waist Company fire on March 25, 1911 in New York City’s Greenwich Village was a major turning point in American history. One hundred and forty-six workers, mostly teenage Jewish and Italian immigrant girls, perished after the fire broke out on Triangle Company’s sweatshop on the 8th  and 9th floors of the building. Many were locked in, a common measure to prevent theft, and the only available exit was a multi-story plummet to the pavement below. Others burned alive or were stampeded to death in the rush to escape.

After the Fire  Governor John Alden Dix (D) created the Factory Investigating Commission (FIC) and granted it powers unprecedented in New York’s history. The FIC experienced remarkable success in restricting child labor and granting women workers a reasonable workday. The FIC even tried to institute a minimum wage for New York, but political opponents stifled the policy proposal. Other accomplishments include:

Automatic sprinklers became mandatory in buildings seven stories or higher and factories of 200 or more employees.

Factory doors had to be unlocked during work hours, and they were required to swing outwards.

A building construction code requiring that new buildings include multiple enclosed fireproof stairways and fire escapes.

Employers are required to provide clean drinking water, washrooms, and toilets for their employees.

 Women could work no more than a 54 hour work week and nine hours a day.

Children ages 18 and under were banned from work that could injure their health and well-being.

Cry Wolf Quotes

The chief cause [of lead poisoning among color workers] used to be the careless habits of the men, in not properly washing themselves after handling the lead materials, eating their lunches with their hands covered with the stuff…

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Arthur S. Summers, a manufacturer of dry colors.
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

The hardship entailed on a certain proportion of the home workers, without means of support, the distress they will suffer, their loss will be greater than the benefit coming to the public through the elimination of that work.

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Max Adler, owner of a garment factory. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

You are putting a lot of people out of business and perhaps raising the price of bread….things are getting a little bit better [without “drastic” reforms], slowly, and I am not certain whether or not that would not be a pretty drastic remedy, not against the worst ones, but against the best of that class.

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P. Tecumseh Sherman. Attorney, and previously held the position of Commissioner of the Labor Department of New York. Only date available: 1912.
01/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

This bill will make it difficult for the poor baker to continue to exist, thereby making it easier for the large baker to combine with his larger brother and increase the price of bread or lower the size of the loaf, why, that is a very strong point in opposition to this bill, because the very people you are going to aid—the poor have got to be taken into consideration.

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Harold M. Phillips, of the United States Real Estate Owners Association. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws