Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

August 26, 2013

Want to know why we need unions? Here’s a good reason

The good Lord only knows how much money has been spent in the past decade searching for the body of Jimmy Hoffa, and while that was going on no one was paying much attention to the fact our unions were dying.

It’s not that much of a secret that the GOP is bending over backwards to break unions, but why? Well, consider this.

In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York occupied the eighth, ninth and 10th floors of a high rise. The workers worked 14-hour days, six days a week for low wages under not-so-sanitary of working conditions.

On March 25, just 15 minutes before the workers’ shift would end, a fire broke out on the 8th floor. Fed by the bolts of material stored there, the fire spread quickly to the upper floors.

The exit doors had not yet been unlocked for the day (the doors were locked each day to keep employees from stealing and to keep union organizers out).

The few elevators available only held 10 employees at a time. A wrought iron fire escape collapsed quickly due to the intense heat. In just 16 minutes 146 employees ranging in age from 14 to 40 died from either being roasted alive or throwing themselves from windows.

The entire country was so outraged that the factory owners were charged with manslaughter. But an investigation determined they had broken no laws. In a follow-up civil suit, the complainants shared a grand total of $75 each.

The only good thing to come out of it all was the formation of the Garment Workers Union.

That’s why we need unions. You figure out why the GOP is trying to take them away. Perhaps it’s for the same reason they don’t want you to have affordable health care.

Think about it.

Will Ross

Bealeton, Va.

 

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