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Video: NYC Mayor Bloomberg Booed, Heckled at Triangle Fire Commemoration

4:55 pm in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

As I stood witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire centennial commemoration at the corner of Washington Place and Green Street on Friday, March 25, I was surprised and impressed by the size of the crowd, but the most unexpected moment of the day came when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped to the microphone.

Every other speaker (and there were many–from Labor Sec. Hilda Solis and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to labor leaders Mary Kay Henry and Bruce Raynor) was met with cheers by the thousands in attendance at the rally. . . but not Mayor Mike. The pro-labor crowd loudly booed and heckled Bloomberg from start to finish. The chants of “get off the stage” were so loud that I (standing right under a speaker) could not hear Bloomberg at all until the organizers turned up the PA.

Black and purple bunting marks the eighth floor of the Asch Building (now the Brown Bldg.), once home to the Triangle Waist Factory. (photo: G. Levine)

The billionaire mayor has spent a lot of time of late making Unions his favorite whipping boy for NYC’s budget woes. Bloomberg has proposed pension cuts for police officers and firefighters, threatened to lay off thousands of teachers, and routinely treats construction accidents as the cost of doing business.

[To watch the video in a separate window, click here.]

The Party Line – March 25, 1911

6:48 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of America’s most horrific industrial accidents, happened 100 years ago today, on March 25, 1911. Though New York City’s fire department arrived on the scene within two minutes of the call, the fire at this “modern” high rise at the corner of Washington Pl. and Greene St. still claimed the lives of 146 people, most of them young women and teenage girls. Some were burned, some died of smoke inhalation, some were crushed pushing for the exits, some fell from a faulty fire escape, and some jumped nine stories in an attempt to escape the flames.

It was a catastrophic, once-in-a-lifetime failure of what were considered more than ample emergency response systems. No one could have possibly anticipated. . . .

If you are in NYC, join a broad coalition of labor and community activists in remembering those who lost their lives that day and those that have fought ever since to prevent disasters like this from happening again. (There will also be demonstrations in other cities; some are listed at the link above.) A march begins from Union Square at 11am EDT; a memorial and reading of the names is set to begin at noon, at the still-standing Asch Building (now known as the Brown Building), just east of Washington Square Park.

At 4:45pm EDT, approximately the time of the fire, church bells will be rung here in the city and across the country. Please take a minute to listen and reflect on the lives lost a century ago, and the rights gained since.

[To watch the video in a separate window, click here.]