On March 25, 1911 two wealthy factory owners fled to the roof of a burning building while 146 of their employees perished in a fire. The owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and when there was a fire, the workers could not get out. Crowds gathered and watched helpless as the women either jumped to their death or were consumed by flames. This was the death for women who worked without bargaining power. This was the death for women who had to endure nine hour workdays on the weekdays and seven hour days on the weekends for very little pay. This was the death for women whose union sisterhood would change the future of the city and prompt national labor reform. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire
In Wisconsin, a republican bill was recently passed to rob state workers of their collective bargaining rights and to reduce their pay. This bill has resulted in protesters from Wisconsin demanding that the government get out of bed with big business and to stop legislating in an effort to kill the middle class.
After the triangle fire, more than 350,000 marched in a funeral procession to support the women murdered by industrial negligence. This united movement combined with a women’s labor union movement changed labor laws both on the state and federal level and it was the impetus for social reforms such as the New Deal. It had to be. Two years after this industrial genocide, the fat cat factory owners were fined AGAIN for locking the doors to the stairwells!
Wisconsin has enjoyed solidarity from the working class all over the world. International support from Egypty, Korea, Finland, Germany, Canada, Turkey, and other countries have ordered pizzas for the spirited protestors. Actually, 12 countries and 38 states have participated in this pizza party.
Their support is not limited to pizza. On February 26, 2011 the American working class from all 50 states rallied to show their solidarity and support for the disenfranchised union workers in Wisconsin. The rally, entitled “Save the American Dream” was prompted by the progressive movement and it brought out union workers from all 50 states. http://front.moveon.org/50-photos-from-the-50-state-rallies-to-save-the-american-dream/
This weekend was truly an exercise of democracy in action and I hope that through this exhibition of solidarity and the public stance of the unbreakable American spirit will ensure that big business and the political party of corporate groupies do not succeed in their attempts to marginalize and annihilate the middle class.