Many of the GOP talking heads and Republican strategists commonly espouse deregulation or recommend limiting government standards of safety for workers and the environment as ways to encourage the growth of industry and business, the hope being that the “job creators” will spread the wealth around. They ignore oil spills, coal mine cave-ins, and nuclear accidents all occurring in living memory when these statements are made. They always claim that business owners can be counted on to sensibly regulate themselves without interference from unions, that they really care about their own employee’s safety and well being, and they will be the ones to help America succeed if the bad, old Government just gets out of the way! And their Democrat colleagues fail to fight for current standards, let alone try to improve on the state of the American workplace. I think we must remember the lives cut short by greed and indifference, take a moment to think of the victims of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911. 146 garment workers died in the fire, from smoke inhalation, or from jumping to their deaths to avoid being burnt to death. All but 17 victims were women and young girls, mostly from the Lower East Side. The factory was crammed with sewing machines in every available space, with barely elbow room for workers and had none of the fire safety features we take for granted today. Workers commonly worked 6-7 days straight, with 60 plus hour work weeks, and were required to work at a breakneck pace. The owners of the factory were encouraged to put sprinkler systems and fire escapes in place, but not required by law. Sadly, some of these women had made an unsuccessful attempt to unionize, to gain better pay and working conditions, only to have the same police that they clashed with at the picket lines, trying to identify their charred bodies for burial a short time later. In the aftermath of this terrible loss of life, many of the protections we enjoy as workers today were enacted, like a minimum wage, overtime pay, and compensation for disability. If the story is unfamiliar, click on the image below for info on an excellent, although short documentary called Triangle: Remembering the Fire, that covers the facts of the fire as well as the human cost, by putting names and faces on the victims. This documentary moved me to tears, I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Lest we forget what horrors can happen when we allow business and industry to self-regulate, please remember those who died unnecessarily in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory over a century ago.