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A police officer and others with the broken bodies
of Triangle fire victims at their feet, look up in
shock at workers poised to jump from the upper floors
of the burning Asch Building March 25, 1911.
Photo/Brown Brothers

By Andi Sosin & Joel Sosinsky,
The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition

The Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition (RTFC), a national organization comprised of more than 250 participating organizations devoted to commemorating and memorializing the Triangle fire as a tragic moment in American labor history, has announced a national design competition for a permanent public art memorial. The Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, often called “the fire that changed America,” took place on March 25, 1911. The fire burned through the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Asch Building, located on the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village, just one block east of Washington Square Park. People on the street watched in horror as workers, who were unable to be reached by the fire department ladders that extended only to the 6th floor, jumped out the 9th floor windows. One hundred forty-six (146) mostly young immigrant women workers from Eastern Europe and Italy perished in the fire. There was a trial for manslaughter, but the owners, long known for leading opposition to unions and to safety regulations, were acquitted because it could not be proved that they knew a stairwell door was locked, and a later insurance settlement paid only $75 per claimant. The fire galvanized union activism, and became a rallying cry for safety advocates and the international labor movement.

The Triangle memorial will offer a long awaited tribute to the fire’s victims, who went to work on Saturday March 25, 1911, but did not come home. Prior to the fire, Triangle Waist Company workers had participated in the Uprising of the 20,000 in 1909 and other strikes for better working conditions and wages. Following the fire, citizen outrage resulted in passage of numerous worker safety laws in New York and other states, and federal laws were passed during the New Deal that ended child labor, created a minimum wage, authorized workers to form unions, and established Social Security, among other reforms. The memorial will also remind viewers of present day struggles for dignity and safety in the workplace all over the world. Mary Anne Trasciatti, Director of the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, said, “A century after this most historic and tragic event, the nation will at last have a permanent memorial to honor and recognize.”

New York University (NYU), which owns the site of the fire, known now as the Brown Building, will participate in the design search along with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the New York City Fire Museum (FDNY), Cornell University’s Kheel Center, Workers United (successor to the ILGWU, now an SEIU affiliate), the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, civic leaders, and family members of the victims. When agreement on the design is reached, the RTFC will bring it forward for approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the neighborhood’s Community Board. Details of the Request for Proposals will soon be available on the RTFC website,

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Immigration march in Detroit, Michigan.

By Silicon Valley Debug

  In what has been heralded as the most progressive policy in the nation, Santa Clara County, California, on October 18 voted in a new set of guidelines for civil immigration detainers, which in effect ends the county’s collaboration with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Supervisor George Shirakawa, who championed the policy, told an audience of supporters after the County Board of Supervisors' vote, “Today is historic. We now have the most progressive policy in this field, and the whole nation will be looking at us as Santa Clara County makes it official: we don’t do ICE’s job.” Civil immigration detainers are requests from ICE to the county to detain jailed individuals after the completion of their sentence from a criminal charge in order to get them picked up for immigration detention and deportation proceedings.

  For immigrant advocates and county officials, the new policy—which will only honor a detainer request if, “there is a written agreement with the federal government by which all costs incurred by the County in complying with the ICE detainer will be reimbursed”—is a way to exert local control in the face of a controversial federal ICE program called Secure Communities. Rolled out in 2008, Secure Communities uses fingerprints gathered at jails to notify ICE agents of the immigration status of individuals to then initiate detainer requests. The program has received pushback from counties and states who say Secure Communities violates targeted individuals' constitutional protections, places financial hardships on cash-strapped counties, and jeopardizes public safety by making immigrant communities fearful of law enforcement.

  ICE initially told counties that they had the option to opt out of Secure Communities only to rescind that offer after counties attempted to do so in 2010. Santa Clara County was one of the first in the country to attempt the opt-out. Santa Clara County formed a taskforce of law enforcement agencies, informed by County Counsel, to craft a policy around the principle operating mechanism of Secured Communities—the detainer request—given ICE’s shifting information regarding the program.

On October 5 the taskforce came up with a policy that would limit the county to only honor detainers after conviction (through Secure Communities, even those who had not been found guilty of the crime that placed them in jail were still vulnerable to a detainer hold), would not honor detainer requests for juveniles, and would only honor requests for a specific list of “serious” and "violent" felonies. Yet, as the taskforce recommendation moved along to the full County Board of Supervisors for a final vote, Supervisor Shirakawa added an amendment to only consider detainer requests when given a written agreement for reimbursement by the federal government, and stating that except for particular circumstances, “ICE agents shall not be given access to individuals or be allowed to use County facilities for investigative interviews or other purposes, and County personnel shall not expend County time or resources responding to ICE inquiries or communicating with ICE regarding individuals’ incarceration or release date.” In explaining the amendment to the rest of the Board, he said, “ICE has lied to us in the past with Secure Communities. We need to say enough is enough.”

From the Editors

Every compassionate American watches in horror as more and more laws are passed that terrorizes immigrants and their families. In Alabama, schools must now verify the citizenship of students and let police arrest people who don't have identification. This is morally wrong!

We cannot allow the American people to be divided, which is the goal of the capitalists. The rulers of this country want to get one section of the people to support eliminating the civil liberties of immigrants, and in the process eliminate everyone's rights.

Today, the global corporations cannot provide jobs. Poverty is increasing for all workers, and people are beginning to question the system that is producing that poverty. The danger facing the rulers is that the people will unite, regardless of nationality, and demand a society that serves their needs, not corporate profit. Thus we are witnessing an effort to isolate the immigrant as part of a drive toward outright fascism.

This is not simply a fight for immigrant rights, as important as that is. It is a fight for the human rights of every person on this earth.


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 800-691-6888
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