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

There really is a close competition between the canned good industry of this state and that of other states, and that while the canners of other states are operating under general exemptions from the labor law provisions, it will produce a harsh, if not destructive, competition to compel the New York canner to attempt to operate under strict regulation as to the hours of employment.

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“Conditions in Canneries”, Memorandum of the New York State Canners’ Association. By John. F. Connor, attorney for the canners’ association. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

They are not over-intelligent…They formed habits of living that they carried with them to their work, and that made it very difficult indeed to correct them.

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

The business men of this country who have made and saved money should no longer be supervised, criticized, or controlled by men who have neither made nor saved it.

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State Superintendent of Banks Eugene Lamb Richards addressing the New York State Bankers’ Association.
01/31/1915 | 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