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

We have laws that in a crisis we find are no laws and we have enforcement that when the hour of trial comes we find is no enforcement.

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Rabbi Stephen Wise, 1911
04/01/1911 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

We are of the opinion that if the present recommendations are insisted upon…factories will be driven from the city, labor will be compelled to accompany them, factories, tenements, and small houses will become tenantless with the final result of demoralization in tax collections by the city. What is wanted is evolution and not revolution.

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Resolution adopted by the United Real Estate Owners Association’s against the Factory Investigating Commission laws.
06/28/1914 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

Excited persons rarely accomplish anything…No new laws are needed.

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The New York Times tended to be very pro-business during this period. After the fire, but before the launch of the Factory Investigating Commission. Only date available: 1911.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

[The New York Herald noted that the owners claimed the order amounted to] a confiscation of property…

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New York Herald. Only date available: March, 1911.
03/01/2011 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws