March 21, 2011
St. John’s University Provost, Dr. Julia Upton, RSM, has planned
a commemorative event in honor of the centenary of the
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that killed 146 garment workers —
the majority of whom were women. The deadly fire broke out on the
floors occupied by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City
on March 25, 1911, and was the worst workplace disaster in New York
City prior to September 11, 2001.
Programs will discuss the tragedy’s impact on today’s workplace
conditions, labor issues, and women’s rights, among others. It will
also expose the early 20th- century immigrant experience, the lives
of migrant workers and the dangerous conditions that still persist
in businesses and factories that still ignore federal regulations.
Several presentations highlight how the University’s Vincentian
mission has inspired its members to assist at risk populations.
Reflecting on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire After 100
Years: What does is Say About Workers Today? -This lecture
links the tragedy of the Triangle Fire to the challenges faced by
workers around the world today. Dartmouth University Professor
Annelise Orleck will connect the struggles of female shirtwaist
makers to form unions and gain government protections with those of
workers in dangerous industries today.
A Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony
Then and Now: Fair Labor Conditions in a Global Context
- Rev. James Maher, EVP for Mission at St. John’s will
discuss labor issues in the footwear and apparel industries. He
will use St. John’s and Nike as a case study. Following the
discussion will be a public debate between the STJ Debate Team and
a visiting team from Morocco.
Fire Safety, Regulations and Practices - Edward
Bergen, Asst. Fire Safety Director, Dept, of Environmental Health
Women and Labor: Continuing Challenges - Dr.
Barbara Koziak, Director, Women's and Gender Studies Program, will
discuss the status of female factory workers and global trade
policy. Dr. Roberta Villalón, Assistant Professor of Sociology and
Anthropology will examine the violence perpetrated against
undocumented immigrant women and Dr. Jennifer Travis, Associate
Professor of English, will discuss links between literature and
labor at the turn of the twentieth century.
From Fire to Fire: the Globalization of
Sweatshops - Robert J. S. Ross, author of Slaves to
Fashion, discusses poverty and abuse in the new sweatshops.
Please visit www.stjohns.edu/triangle100 for
a complete list of program events.
"It has been called ‘The fire that changed America,’" Dr. Upton
observed. "But I wonder how much it changed us. The fire fueled the
international labor movement and many fire safety laws have been
enacted as a result of that tragedy. But have sweatshops vanished?
Does social justice pervade the workplace in America now? Those are
the questions I continue to ask a century later," and which will be
explored during this week long series of programs that explain the
fire’s lasting impact on the world in which we live.
The planning for this anniversary began when three years ago, as
freshmen, St. John’s University’s current seniors were asked to
read Katherine Weber’s
a novel about the fictional last survivor of the blaze. Since then,
Dr. Upton has elicited creative suggestions from the St. John’s
community about commemorating the event.
For media inquiries, please contact Elizabeth Reilly, Associate
Director of Media Relations at St. John’s by calling (718)
990-5789, or by e-mail to email@example.com.