by Maddy Hughes
In light of the national focus on laborers' rights, a series of events called "Then and Now: Immigrants, Workers, and the Search for Justice" has been scheduled in St. Paul to educate and call attention to the history of workers' unions.
This year is the centennial anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, an event that represents the mistreatment of public workers. Twin Cities Daily Planet and MinnPost explain that the incident was unfair to workers because factory managers had locked the doors that workers tried to escape through.
The workers, most of which were Jewish and Italian immigrant women, had gathered two years before the fire in a strike to preserve union rights and lost, being forced to keep their jobs in the dangerous Triangle factory.
The first event of the series, which has brought together over 30 organizations to participate, was a film screening about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire at Macalester College on March 6, followed by a panel discussion.
The series includes documentary film screenings, photo exhibits, and more education sessions going all the way through late May. The list and details of events is right here.
Macalester history professor Dr. Peter Rachleff is one of the event's coordinators working with Jewish Community Action, a group that is sponsoring the series.