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

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

The rent is very high, and you can’t recent a place above ground in New York city to establish a bakery. If you can’t have a bake shop in a basement in New York City, you can’t have a bake shop here, that is all, unless people will pay prohibitive prices for bread; And we hear a great deal now about the high cost of living.

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Mr. Frank P. Hill, baker.
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

[On why they don’t have medical inspections of their workers] In every case where the men have claimed to have been infected or affected by the lead they were intemperate men…[Meaning:] A man that drank a good deal of beer. …the other men who worked longer at it, who don’t drink, are not affected by it.

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Clarence F. Shipman, foreman at the Splitdorf Magneto Company (lead).
03/01/1912 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

[These changes in the fire code would lead to] the wiping out of industry in this state.

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A spokesman for the Associated Industries of New York. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws