CONCORD, NH – Today the NH House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee held a public hearing on SB 61, so-called Right to Work legislation which is part of a coordinated national effort to interfere in collective bargaining rights and roll back protections for workers. The hearing took place on the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, one of the deadliest industrial fires in history and a tragedy that helped spur improved factory safety standards and the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).
Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:
“The real purpose of right to work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions for all workers. It is ironic that House Republicans scheduled the public hearing on the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which is a sad reminder of what happens when we do not have strong unions to advocate for safe working conditions. Particularly now, in the middle of a public health pandemic and when unions are at the front line protecting workers from egregious examples of exploitation, we do not need bills that undermine workers’ rights.”
Background on Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is one of the deadliest industrial fires in history. On Saturday, March 25, 1911 at approximately 4:40 p.m., a fire flared up on the 8th floor. The workers of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire were almost entirely women, and mostly immigrant women. They made the equivalent today of $3.62 per hour. They worked 6 days a week, 9 hours a day. Their workplace was not firesafe and the doors were locked during work hours to keep them from leaving. Witnesses of the fire saw 62 workers jump or fall to their deaths trying to escape a building on fire, and this incident claimed the lives of 146 workers total — mostly women, and many children. The tragedy led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.
Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems. Visit https://granitestateprogress.org/ to learn more.