Friday, March 25, marks 111 years since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, one of the deadliest workplace tragedies in U.S. history. The deaths of young Jewish and Italian immigrant women garment workers galvanized a nascent labor movement, spurred historic legislation to protect workers’ safety, improved working conditions, and ultimately laid the basis for the New Deal labor reforms.

Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ) is co-sponsoring a virtual benefit on Thursday, March 24, for the construction of a Triangle Fire Memorial. The program will include music, performance, images of the memorial, and more.

At JFREJ, we are committed to fighting oppression in all its forms. As evidenced by the garment workers in the shirtwaist strike and the ongoing fight for care workers’ rights, Jews have been integral to building New York’s labor movement.

JFREJ has carried on the radical legacy that grew out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire by organizing and supporting New York's most critical movements for worker power, such as: our 1996 campaign for Decent Jobs at Living Wages; helping Domestic Workers United pass the 2014 Domestic Workers Bill of Rights; supporting B&H workers facing retaliation after voting to unionize in 2016; and much more.

Check out these active labor campaigns and legislative fights in New York right now:

  • Replenish the Excluded Workers Fund: In 2021, as part of the Fund Excluded Workers coalition, JFREJ helped to secure a first-of-its-kind $2.1 billion fund for workers excluded from government relief during the pandemic. But with hundreds of thousands of workers in need of aid, the fund quickly ran out before assisting everyone who qualified for assistance. The coalition is now calling for an additional $3 billion to replenish the Excluded Workers Fund.

  • Fund Fair Pay for Home Care: New York State has the worst home care shortage in the country. While minimum wage has increased in some sectors in New York, home care workers’ wages — funded by Medicaid — remain at an average of $13.20/hour. Home care workers are being forced to leave their jobs in search of better pay elsewhere. As a leader of the Caring Majority coalition, JFREJ is fighting to increase home care workers’ pay by 150% and end the workforce shortage.

  • End the 24-Hour Rule: Home care workers doing 24-hour shifts should be paid for every single hour of their time at a consumer’s home. But too many home care workers who do 24-hour shifts are unjustly only paid for 13 of those 24 hours. JFREJ strongly supports legislation to end the 24-hour rule that exploits home care workers by failing to pay them for nearly half of their time spent in the workplace. The state has a responsibility to pay workers fairly and for every hour worked, while also allocating enough funding to ensure that all people with disabilities and older adults have access to the all the care they need to live with dignity.

  • Legalize Street Vending: New York City street vendors have long been subjected to arbitrary regulations and police harassment. State law makes it extremely difficult to obtain a permit for street vending while also imposing harsh penalties on street vendors without permits. JFREJ strongly supports our partners at the Street Vendor Project, who are the grassroots force behind legislation to repeal state regulations that criminalize and punish street vendors.

  • Pass the PRO Act: Conservative legislation and judicial rulings of the past several decades have slowly chipped away at hard-won federal labor protections. JFREJ strongly supports the nationwide campaign to make it easier for workers to form a union, increase penalties on corporations when they retaliate against workers organizing for better pay or working conditions, and re-empower labor unions.

  • Starbucks Unionization: Starbucks workers are unionizing! This effort started in New York, with a groundbreaking victory at a Starbucks in Buffalo, and has only continued to gain momentum across the state and nationwide. JFREJ strongly supports Starbucks Workers United. No better coffee than union-made coffee!

  • Resisting Amazon: Nationwide, Amazon workers are organizing, and neighborhoods resisting the corporation's backroom deals to bring wages down, while bringing up rents, injuries, incarceration, and pollution, and trying to create an American surveillance state. JFREJ played an an integral role in the #NoAmazonNYC victory, and is a founding member of the Athena Coalition, where 50+ grassroots orgs and its over one million members come together to build democratic power over Amazon and its abuses of our communities, including workers, immigrants, small businesses, climate and government.