127 factory workers were killed either by fire or plunging to their death out of windows on to the New York City street. These women were the strikers of 1910 they had a lot of media coverage, 15, 16, and 17 year old girls were quoted talking about their constitutional rights - their rights to picket without being beaten. They marched on the City Hall with banners in English, Yiddish, and Italian that read “we are not slaves” and “abolish slavery”. In attempt to ruin their reputations management put prostitutes on the sewing line. Rather than repudiating the act, the women said “better to be a prostitute than a scab, it’s an honest profession.”
Before the fire, hundreds of complaints were filed to the Trade Union League, reporting the carelessness of factory upkeep. For months piles of highly flammable fabric scraps flooded the factory. Most exit doors were locked supposedly to prevent the workers from taking fabric and stealing from the company. During the trial Harris and Blank, the factory owners admitted the most they would have lost was $20-$30 in a year.
Scab - A scab was / is a person who crosses a picket line and takes the job of a worker on strike. Many times unskilled laborers were brought in by train or bus from another town. They were used by management to “break the labor movement.”
100 years later if we do not take control over the global economy we will all be working for $3/hour with no benefits.