A few weeks ago I volunteered at the Factory Safety forum, which was held right on FIT’s campus. The event was held by the Corporate Social Responsibility Club and the United College Employees FIT. As a member of ITSA (International Trade Student association) and the CRS Club (Corporate Social Responsibility), events like this are kind of my thing. I live for constructive conversations, and when people argue and disagree it displays their passion. People only get worked up over issues that really matter to them. Seeing people worked up over factory safety is a beautiful thing, because so many people aren’t. Most people don’t particularly care that the pants they are wearing was made in an unsafe, illegitimate factory, with no fire escape present; a tragedy waiting to happen. Factory safety is a hot topic and has been fluctuating in and out of the public’s eye since 1911, since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. This was the biggest industrial accident in the United States, killing nearly 150 people and severely injuring scores more.
Many laws have been put into place to make sure tragedies like this don’t happen anymore; child labor laws, permitted number of hours in a work day, minimum wage. It’s sad, that 103 years later we are STILL having conversations about factory workers rights. However, I know that if I don’t do care, no one else will. As someone who plans to have a career in the fashion industry, I should care. We all should. Our actions have a ripple effect throughout the entire world. Which is exciting to listen in on what current industry people are doing to remedy this widespread problem. They are the ones creating contracts and fighting for the workers, and it was interesting to hear what steps they are taking. There was also a panel held by teachers on what they can do in the classroom and. The keynote speaker was Charles Kernagahn, from the Institute of Global Labour and Human Rights, who is widely recognized as one the leading experts on factory safety.
I got to volunteer at a cool event, learn a lot and become a more well rounded member of the fashion community. Friday was a good day. Below I have posted a link to the group committed to remembering the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory if you’re interested.
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