Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later

Shirtwaist Strike & Other Strikes

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After 2 hours of presentations during the November 22, 1909 Cooper Union meeting, Clara Lemlich interrupted Jacob Panken and asked to be allowed to speak. She had already been beaten by police and arrested 17 times while on strike for nearly three months. Tired of long speeches urging caution, and worried that both momentum and support was being lost, Lemlich recounted in Yiddish the intolerable conditions in the shops and called for a general strike. The response was immediate, and affirmative. On November 23, more than 15,000 shirtwaist makers walked out of 500 factories, effectively bringing production to a halt. Within the first two days of the strike, more than 70 small shops agreed to the union's demands.

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Sweatshop conditions in the early 1900's