WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su penned an op-ed reflecting on the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire published in Teen Vogue on March 25, 2024, the fire’s 113th anniversary. In it, the Acting Secretary recalled the lives lost — the majority of which were immigrant women — and how it began the legacy of former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, who witnessed the fire in downtown New York City. The op-ed also referenced the work of President Biden’s administration to enforce labor laws, uphold safety standards and empower workers to speak up, and the Acting Secretary’s experience in advocating for today’s immigrant workers in the garment industry. “Secretary of Labor Julie Su on the Worker Movement 113 Years After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire” includes the following excerpts:“This Women’s History Month, I’m reflecting on Frances Perkins’ legacy and how she turned the unheard voices of those immigrant women into a call to action. Frances became a driving force behind programs that generations of Americans have relied on for economic security and dignity, including a nationwide minimum wage, health and safety regulations, restrictions on child labor and more.”“I saw this early in my career. In 1995, 72 Thai garment workers were being forced to work behind barbed wire and under armed guard in a suburb of Los Angeles called El Monte. These workers, who were overwhelmingly women, were trafficked to the United States. They had been lured by the promise of the American dream, only to find themselves confronting injustice, just as the Triangle factory workers had decades earlier.”“To create change, it has taken workers using their voices to fight for their basic rights. I’ve asked my team at the Department of Labor to use every tool we have to support and empower workers in that fight. For example, earlier this year, we recovered more than $1 million for 165 workers whose employer had denied them overtime wages and then tried to conceal the wage theft. To date, this is the Department’s largest settlement ever for California garment workers.” “In addition to enforcing laws that protect workers, in the Biden-Harris administration we’re making sure that women, women of color and people who have historically been shut out of opportunities can get good-quality jobs.” “The Department of Labor and the Biden-Harris administration will continue to answer that call — the call of the women who came before us — with vigilance. We are fighting to enforce labor laws, uphold safety standards, and empower workers to speak up, speak out, and organize. As we remember those who lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, we reaffirm that we cannot rest until that work is done.”

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