Author Archives for Ann Kammerer

2021 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration

March 25, 2021 12:19 am Published by Leave a comment

1March 25, 2021, is the 110th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York’s Greenwich Village. This tragedy took the lives of 146 young immigrant garment workers and galvanized a reform movement to raise standards for workers.

Most years, UNITE HERE staff and members gather at the union headquarters in New York to remember the victims with a reading of their names and testimony from one of the survivors. UNITE HERE’s New York headquarters is closed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. We offer these historic resources instead to commemorate the 146 immigrant workers whose sacrifices led to safer workplaces. May their memories be for a blessing.

To learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, visit Cornell University’s Kheel Center.

This incident has had great significance to this day because it highlights the inhumane working conditions to which industrial workers can be subjected. To many, its horrors epitomize the extremes of industrialism.

“It is by remembering our past that we prepare to fight for our future. We are measured by how we protect the most vulnerable and ensure their health and safety to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that is our guiding light.”

—D. Taylor, President, UNITE HERE

The tragedy still dwells in the collective memory of the nation and of the international labor movement. The victims of the tragedy are still celebrated as martyrs at the hands of industrial greed.

The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Asch Building was one of the new “fireproof” buildings, but the blaze on March 25th was not their first. It was also not the only unsafe building in the city.

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On the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place, fire fighters struggle to save workers and control the blaze. The tallest fire truck ladders reached only to the sixth floor, 30 feet below those standing on window ledges waiting for rescue. Many men and women jumped from the windows to their deaths. Photographer: unknown, March 25, 1911.

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An officer stands at the Asch Building’s 9th floor window after the Triangle Fire. Sewing machines, drive shafts, and other wreckage of the factory fire are piled in the center of the room. Photographer: Brown Brothers, 1911.

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In the April 5th funeral procession for the seven unidentified fire victims, members of the United Hebrew Trades of New York and the Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union Local 25, International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, the local that organized Triangle Waist Company workers, carry banners proclaiming “We Mourn Our Loss.” Photographer: unknown, April 5, 1911.

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The Triangle Fire Memorial to the six unidentified victims in the Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY, was created in 1912 by Evelyn Beatrice Longman. The six bodies were all recently identified by Michael Hirsch, who worked tirelessly to recognize the names of the unidentified victims.

The victims names:

• Lizzie Adler, 24
• Anna Altman, 16
• Annina Ardito, 25
• Rose Bassino, 31
• Vincenza Benanti, 22
• Yetta Berger, 18
• Essie Bernstein, 19
• Jacob Bernstein, 38
• Morris Bernstein, 19
• Vincenza Billota, 16
• Abraham Binowitz, 30
• Gussie Birman, 22
• Rosie Brenman, 23
• Sarah Brenman, 17
• Ida Brodsky, 15
• Sarah Brodsky, 21
• Ada Brucks, 18
• Laura Brunetti, 17
• Josephine Cammarata, 17
• Francesca Caputo, 17
• Josephine Carlisi, 31
• Albina Caruso, 20
• Annie Ciminello, 36
• Rosina Cirrito, 18
• Anna Cohen, 25
• Annie Colletti, 30
• Sarah Cooper, 16
• Michelina Cordiano, 25
• Bessie Dashefsky, 25
• Josie Del Castillo, 21
• Clara Dockman, 19
• Kalman Donick, 24
• Nettie Driansky, 21
• Celia Eisenberg, 17
• Dora Evans, 18
• Rebecca Feibisch, 20
• Yetta Fichtenholtz, 18
• Daisy Lopez Fitze, 26
• Mary Floresta, 26
• Max Florin, 23
• Jenne Franco, 16
• Rose Friedman, 18
• Diana Gerjuoy, 18
• Molly Gerstein, 17
• Catherine Giannattasio, 22
• Celia Gitlin, 17
• Esther Goldstein, 20
• Lena Goldstein, 22
• Mary Goldstein, 18
• Yetta Goldstein, 20
• Rosie Grasso, 16
• Bertha Greb, 25
• Rachel Grossman, 18
• Mary Herman, 40
• Esther Hochfeld, 21
• Fannie Hollander, 18
• Pauline Horowitz, 19
• Ida Jukofsky, 19
• Ida Kanowitz, 18
• Tessie Kaplan, 18
• Beckie Kessler, 19
• Jacob Klein, 23
• Beckie Koppelman, 16
• Bertha Kula, 19
• Tillie Kupferschmidt, 16
• Benjamin Kurtz, 19
• Annie L’Abbate, 16
• Fannie Lansner, 21
• Maria Giuseppa Lauletti, 33
• Jennie Lederman, 21
• Max Lehrer, 18
• Sam Lehrer, 19
• Kate Leone, 14
• Mary Leventhal, 22
• Jennie Levin, 19
• Pauline Levine, 19
• Nettie Liebowitz, 23
• Rose Liermark, 19
• Bettina Maiale, 18
• Frances Maiale, 21
• Catherine Maltese, 39
• Lucia Maltese, 20
• Rosaria Maltese, 14
• Maria Manaria, 27
• Rose Mankofsky, 22
• Rose Mehl, 15
• Yetta Meyers, 19
• Gaetana Midolo, 16
• Annie Miller, 16
• Beckie Neubauer, 19
• Annie Nicholas, 18
• Michelina Nicolosi, 21
• Sadie Nussbaum, 18
• Julia Oberstein, 19
• Rose Oringer, 19
• Beckie Ostrovsky, 20
• Annie Pack, 18
• Provindenza Panno, 43
• Antonietta Pasqualicchio, 16
• Ida Pearl, 20
• Jennie Pildescu, 18
• Vincenza Pinelli, 30
• Emilia Prato, 21
• Concetta Prestifilippo, 22
• Beckie Reines, 18
• Louis Rosen (Loeb), 33
• Fannie Rosen, 21
• Israel Rosen, 17
• Julia Rosen, 35
• Yetta Rosenbaum, 22
• Jennie Rosenberg, 21
• Gussie Rosenfeld, 22
• Emma Rothstein, 22
• Theodore Rotner, 22
• Sarah Sabasowitz, 17
• Santina Salemi, 24
• Sarafina Saracino, 25
• Teresina Saracino, 20
• Gussie Schiffman, 18
• Theresa Schmidt, 32
• Ethel Schneider, 20
• Violet Schochet, 21
• Golda Schpunt, 19
• Margaret Schwartz, 24
• Jacob Seltzer, 33
• Rosie Shapiro, 17
• Ben Sklover, 25
• Rose Sorkin, 18
• Annie Starr, 30
• Jennie Stein, 18
• Jennie Stellino, 16
• Jennie Stiglitz, 22
• Sam Taback, 20
• Clotilde Terranova, 22
• Isabella Tortorelli, 17
• Meyer Utal, 23
• Catherine Uzzo, 22
• Frieda Velakofsky, 20
• Bessie Viviano, 15
• Rosie Weiner, 20
• Sarah Weintraub, 17
• Tessie Weisner, 21
• Dora Welfowitz, 21
• Bertha Wendroff, 18
• Joseph Wilson, 22
• Sonia Wisotsky, 17

Statement from UNITE HERE Vice President of Immigration, Diversity, and Civil Rights Enrique Fernández on House Passage of the American Dream and Promise Act

March 19, 2021 4:56 pm Published by Leave a comment

“We commend the House for passing the American Dream and Promise Act. This is part of long overdue immigration legislation needed for working people and their families. House passage is an important step forward. Now, we look to the Senate to follow suit.

“Immigrant workers are the backbone of the hospitality industry. The American Dream and Promise Act will keep millions of hard-working immigrants together with their families.

“This is a testament to what is possible when working people stand together. UNITE HERE laid-off hospitality workers canvassed in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania to elect President Biden and then shifted gears to take back the Senate in the Georgia runoff to ensure that families who have lived and worked in the U.S. for decades no longer need to live in fear of deportation.

“Passing the American Dream and Promise Act is critical in our march to build a pathway to citizenship for millions of DACA recipients and TPS holders. We call on the Senate to pass the American Dream and Promise Act immediately.”

 

Statement from UNITE HERE President D. Taylor on Georgia Shooting

March 17, 2021 7:07 pm Published by Leave a comment

“Yesterday, a horrific act of domestic terrorism took the lives of eight people in Atlanta, Georgia, most of whom were Asian and immigrant women working in the service industry. As the union of hospitality workers whose membership is predominantly women, immigrant, and people of color, we grieve with the families of the victims as well as with the Asian American community in the Greater Atlanta area and across the country in the face of this murderous act.

“But while today we grieve, we are also called to action as a labor movement. We all must acknowledge that these victims were workers, targeted at their place of work—at their low-wage frontline jobs that we demanded remain open throughout most of the pandemic—and that these murders did not happen in isolation, but as part of a rising trend in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes committed against the community.

“We must stand in solidarity with all those mourning today, but it cannot end there. To dismantle white supremacy, we must do what the labor movement exists to do—and that is to show up, organize, and build the infrastructure to ensure our siblings and community members are protected.

“We love and support our AAPI siblings, including the many AAPI UNITE HERE members, and we are here for you. The workers that were lost may not have been UNITE HERE members, but they may well have been. We are devasted but we will not stop fighting until we achieve a just society that protects us all.”

UNITE HERE Commends the House on Passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1), Calls on the Senate to Follow Suit

March 9, 2021 5:48 pm Published by Leave a comment

The hospitality workers’ union, UNITE HERE, commends the House of Representatives on passing the For the People Act (H.R. 1), adding on to the Equality Act and the American Rescue Plan to mark a historic 10 day-span for sweeping legislation moved by our United States Congress.

The right to vote is foundational to advancing and protecting all other rights for workers. Right now, the For The People Act is more vital than ever to safeguarding our Democracy and ensuring that every eligible American has the freedom to vote. In 2020, we saw just how far some are willing to go to put up barriers to silence many of our voices. But we showed how working people can overcome the odds and win—by taking to the streets and talking to voters one-by-one.

In Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania, and then later in Georgia for the Senate runoff, we knocked on millions of doors and heard firsthand the frustration that so many voters feel about a system rigged against them. By talking with voters at their front doors we cut through the noise and encouraged them to vote despite all the obstacles.

The For The People Act would be a major step toward reducing political corruption, ensuring fair elections, and restoring our faith in democracy. In guaranteeing the freedom to vote for millions of Americans, this sweeping bill is a powerful vehicle for working people to have their voices heard, so that together we can tackle deepening income inequality and rebuild our economy with workers at the center.

 

UNITE HERE applauds reintroduction of the Equality Act

March 3, 2021 1:37 pm Published by Leave a comment

Today, UNITE HERE hospitality workers’ union leadership praised the introduction of the Equality Act in both the House and Senate, a historic sweeping legislation that would expand June 2020’s Supreme Court ruling that protects LGBTQ workers from job discrimination into other areas where LGBTQ people still face legal discrimination today.

UNITE HERE International Union President D. Taylor:

“The introduction of the Equality Act in the House and Senate this week is an example of the kind of leadership workers and families have been wanting to see from our national lawmakers for a while now. It is one reason why thousands of laid-off UNITE HERE hospitality workers—housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers—fought so hard to win back the White House in November and carried that fight into victory in the Georgia Senate runoff to take back the Senate for Democrats, too. Such sweeping, historic legislation will change the lives of so many LGBTQ people and families and is a real step towards achieving a fair and equal playing field for all working people.”

UNITE HERE Community and Political Coordinator and long-time labor and LGBTQ rights activist, Cleve Jones (Founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt):

“While last year’s June 2020 Supreme Court ruling was a critical victory, it only scratched the surface of what was still needed to be won as LGBTQ people continue to face legal discrimination. Now Congress is introducing historic legislation that takes us so much farther. And in this unprecedented moment, the stakes have never been higher. As we start to enter a post-COVID world, we must ensure that the road to recovery includes all—especially our most vulnerable and under attack. That starts with Congress joining us and our siblings across the labor movement in supporting the comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people in the Equality Act.

“For years, UNITE HERE has, through collective bargaining, fought for and won protections for LGBTQ workers on-the-job, including in the deep South in places such as Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, and other conservative jurisdictions where no legal protections had previously existed. Like the protections of a union contract, the historic legislation is thanks to all the workers and activists that have fought hard for years to ensure that their voices be heard.”

Statement from UNITE HERE International Union President D. Taylor in Response to House Passage of $1.9 Trillion Rescue Plan

February 27, 2021 6:49 am Published by Leave a comment

For immediate release
Contact: MJ Leira, 917-565-7697, mleira@unitehere.org

“UNITE HERE applauds the House for their move to extend unemployment insurance so laid-off workers can get through this difficult time, grant $1,400 stimulus checks, and safeguard workers’ hard-earned pensions.

“We also commend House Democrats for approving a long-overdue minimum wage hike and urge the Senate to follow their lead—the American people don’t need arcane parliamentary excuses, we need results.

“UNITE HERE also commends Congress for supporting public service workers who have risked everything to get this virus under control and allocating urgently needed aid to states, cities, towns, and schools.

“We are disappointed, however, that House Democrats have gone against President Biden’s proposal to cover 100% of COBRA costs for laid off workers. In passing only 85% COBRA coverage, House Democrats have missed the point, leaving behind exactly those who need health insurance the most.

“The people who can’t afford to pay 15% are those most underserved in our communities. 100% coverage is critical to 13 million Americans who have lost health insurance as a result of being laid off during the pandemic. UNITE HERE hospitality workers faced 98% layoffs at the peak of the shutdowns and more than 75% are still unemployed today.

“Coming in at less than 1% of the total cost of this relief package, 100% COBRA to cover health care costs for millions of laid off Americans is not only essential, but doable. It is unacceptable to shortchange workers’ health care while writing a $25 billion blank check to the restaurant industry.”

“During the presidential election, 1,700 laid-off hospitality workers knocked the doors of 3 million voters in four battleground states, making a critical difference in the results. Then UNITE HERE joined Stacey Abrams and others in Georgia to take back the Senate, knocking on over 1.5 million doors precisely because we believed Democrats were key to winning back stability in their lives, especially around health care.

“Now, the only hope for the laid off workers most in need is for Senate Democrats and Leader Schumer to pick up where the House fell short and pass 100% COBRA. We’re looking to the Senate to close this gap to ensure that relief is accessible to the people who need it most.”

Statement from UNITE HERE Vice President of Immigration, Diversity, and Civil Rights Enrique Fernández on the SECURE Act

February 8, 2021 5:24 pm Published by Leave a comment

“We congratulate Senator Van Hollen on the introduction of the SECURE Act in the Senate, which would allow over 400,000 workers with Temporary Protected Status to apply for legal permanent residency. Many of these people have been here for decades, work hard, pay taxes, raise U.S. citizen children, and provide essential services to our country. We should offer them an opportunity to become full citizens of our country.

“UNITE HERE calls on other Senators to quickly sponsor and pass this legislation.”

—Enrique Fernández, UNITE HERE Vice President of Immigration, Diversity, and Civil Rights

Statement of the UNITE HERE Black Leadership Group & UNITE HERE Philly on the Killing of Walter Wallace Jr.

October 28, 2020 11:34 am Published by Leave a comment

Once again we see the senseless killing of a black man at the hands of police. Walter Wallace Jr. should be alive today, his life mattered. We mourn with his family and our community over his death.

Over the past month we have been talking to Philadelphia residents from every area of our city. Systematic racism is a problem in every neighborhood in Philadelphia and across our country.

This must stop and we are not going to stop pushing for equality and justice until there is equality and justice for all.

In this election, we are fighting for our lives.

When George Floyd was murdered four months ago we asked you to hear our cry.

Our wounds never get the chance to heal. 

Yesterday as we canvassed in West Philadelphia, police shot and killed Walter Wallace, 27-year old Black man who was simply in need of help. Philadelphia is in pain.

ENOUGH!

We say ENOUGH of the poverty, the racism, the theft, the cruelty, the savagery.

The Black Leadership Group has proudly risen to our union’s call to Take Back 2020 and we will keep rising.

We are with you doing data, admin, canvassing, recruiting, phone banking, and everything we can think of to fight back with everything we’ve got.

We are taking back our power. We are taking back our lives.

And we are doing it through our fear, our rage and our tears.

Still.

 

We are calling on you to join us in giving this fight everything you’ve got.

We need our whole family, immigrants, queer, all races, all voices saying with one breath that

OUR LIVES MATTER.

In these final days, ask yourself if there is anything more that you can do.

And then go do it.

This is the fight of our lives.

 

UNITE HERE Black Leadership Group
UNITE HERE Philly — Local 634, Local 274, Local 54

 

UNITE HERE Endorsement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

September 14, 2020 4:07 pm Published by Leave a comment

UNITE HERE is proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States, and Kamala Harris for Vice President of the United States. With our endorsement comes our commitment to do our part to deliver the key swing states of Nevada, Arizona and Florida.

We are a union representing over 300,000 people, mostly women and people of color, working in the hospitality industry. We have attained some of the highest standards for work in the global hospitality industry have been the fastest growing private-sector union in the United States for several years.

As COVID-19 spread, UNITE HERE members counted on our elected officials for support. Instead, Donald Trump failed us. His botched pandemic response has led to record job loss, threatened the health care of millions, tanked the economy, and bailed out corporations instead of workers.

We’re ready to Take Back Our Country.

We need a President and Vice President who are committed to working with us to make our workplaces better, and who understand that One Job Should Be Enough. We need elected leaders who will protect our union health care, implement immigration reform, stand up to sexual harassment, and take meaningful, transformative steps to dismantle the scourge of systemic racism in our country.

Both Vice President Biden and Senator Harris have stood in solidarity with our union in some of our biggest fights of the past several years—from Airline Catering to the Marriott Strike. With COVID-19 threatening jobs everywhere, workers across the country are recognizing the power of unions. We need an administration that will protect our rights to organize and fight for the issues that are important to working people.

After four years of division, it’s time to come together. It’s time to Take Back what’s ours, and we can start by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

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UNITE HERE is a labor union that represents over 300,000 members working in the North American hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.

We are the Black Leadership Group of UNITE HERE International Union.

June 5, 2020 11:40 am Published by Leave a comment

We are organizers. We are elected officers. We are workers. We are community leaders and neighbors. We are parents, children, siblings, and kin. We are your Union family.

And we cannot breathe.

In the last three months we have seen companies line up to abandon us. We have seen them take away healthcare, guaranteeing that more people will fall ill. We have seen politicians shrug their shoulders as people go hungry. But while our Union has been thrown into crisis, our communities have been tossed into even deadlier devastation by ongoing racism and racist violence.

We have gotten sick faster and more often than others.

We have had fewer resources to get well.

Black men, women, and trans folks are murdered by police and citizens.

We have not enjoyed justice.

We keep burying people that we love.

Pain, fear, anger, and devastation hang heavy on our weary hearts. Sometimes we wonder if anyone can see that our people are killed by so many unjust causes. We lay awake at night not knowing what to do while racism keeps its foot on our necks, never lets up, never lets us take a break.
Can’t anyone see that we can’t breathe?

But we fight back, organizing workers to build power through our tears.

We fight back, making phone calls from our sick beds.

We fight back, distributing food even as we stretch our paychecks and family members lose their jobs.

We fight back, holding our loved ones tight and taking the streets because people who look like us meet violent deaths over and over and over again.

We fight for the right to keep breathing.

We carry forward a long and proud tradition of black union leaders organizing for Black freedom. And we will do so until our very last breaths.

Today we call upon you to stand with us. To join us in the fight for our lives — just as we will always stand with you and fight for yours. We know that what happens to our communities can and does happen to others. And it will continue to happen so long as any of us stand idly by. We will stand with our Asian family through the rise in hate, with our Latino family, and our immigrant family discarded, detained, and left in cages. We will stand with our white kin who choose the fight for real liberty and justice for all.

We are calling on you to fight police brutality and anti-black violence with us as we continue to fight for economic justice because we love our Union, and we know that we have the power to emerge victorious over racism, anti-immigrant racism, over sexism, homophobia, and everything that threatens working people and their communities, such that finally — at long last — we all might breathe freely and have life abundantly.

WE CAN’T BREATHE
WE CAN’T BREATHE
WE CAN’T BREATHE

Scott Marks
Organizing director, Chair Black Leadership Committee

Nia Winson
IU General Vice President, L24 President

Marlene Patrick-Cooper
Executive Committee, L23 President

Marvin Jones
General Executive Board, L878 President

Alberta Palmer
L7 Lead Organizer

Kandiz Lamb
L355 Vice President, Lead Organizer

Barbara Vereen
L34 Organizing Director

Donald Boyd
L23 Chapter President

Tyisha Walker-Myers
General Executive Board, L35 Chief Steward

Pamela Stitts
IU Lead Organizer

Theressa Council
L54 Organizing Director

Courtney Smith
L1 Lead Organizer

Jean-Homer Lauture
L100 Lead Organizer

Leain Vashon
L226 Vice President

JT Thomas
L226 Field Representative

Nicole Hunt
General Executive Board, L634 President

Kelley Ford
IU Administrator

Charese Rasberry
L226 Lead Organizer

Ron Gatewood
IU Lead Organizer

Patrick Boyd
IU Organizing Director