Labor History Bus Trips
The UMassD Labor Education Center was thrilled to lead a group of students and community of activists to NYC honoring women workers. A busload of nearly 40 UMassD undergrads, ESOL students from the Workers' Ed Program, staff, and local community activists headed to NYC to honor working women. First we participated in the 106th Commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, where students read names and laid down flowers for the victims of this garment factory fire. The factory owners had locked the mostly women workers into the building and the rescue ladder could not reach the stories where they were trapped.
We also took tours of the Tenement Museum to learn about the lives of sweatshop workers and the specific hardships faced by immigrants. The trip provided discussion on the bus ride home about threats on these very worker protections that came from union organizing around workplace standards, and specifically around health and safety. The parallel to the lives today of immigrant workers was also discussed.
The trip was organized by the Labor Education Center and cosponsored by the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality with generous financial support from the departments of History, Crime and Justice Studies, Sociology/Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies, as well as the union of campus faculty and staff, the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1895.
Our group is holding shirtwaists (blouses) representing women killed in the Triangle Fire, commemorated on March 24.
Zachary Marc-Aurele potrays an eye witness account of the Granite Mill Fire from a workers perspective
For two years, the Labor Education Center has led a group of local organizations to create a labor history tour of the Quequechan River Rail Trail mill district in Fall River. These performances have featured student interns taking the roles of textile workers. Students from the disciplines of Sustainability Studies, Pre-Law, Sociology, Anthropology, History, and Political Science have participated. We have been fortunate to have broad community participation and local press coverage.
We have presented many programs in the past, including bringing Charles Pace, an actor presenting as Fredrick Douglass, to factory workers and students at UMass Dartmouth, as well as to high school students in New Bedford.
In celebration of Women's History Month, we have also presented the program below: