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The Triangle Fire, Protocols Of Peace

And Industrial Democracy In Progressive

Richard Greenwald

Publication Year: 2005

America searched for an answer to "The Labor Question" during the Progressive Era in an effort to avoid the unrest and violence that flared so often in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the ladies' garment industry, a unique experiment in industrial democracy brought together labor, management, and the public. As Richard Greenwald explains, it was an attempt to "square free market capitalism with ideals of democracy to provide a fair and just workplace." Led by Louis Brandeis, this group negotiated the "Protocols of Peace." But in the midst of this experiment, 146 mostly young, immigrant women died in the Triangle Factory Fire of 1911. As a result of the fire, a second, interrelated experiment, New York's Factory Investigating Commission (FIC)—led by Robert Wagner and Al Smith—created one of the largest reform successes of the period. The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York uses these linked episodes to show the increasing interdependence of labor, industry, and the state. Greenwald explains how the Protocols and the FIC best illustrate the transformation of industrial democracy and the struggle for political and economic justice.

Published by: Temple University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. ix-xii

In the course of writing this book, I have accumulated many debts, both large and small. And while I can never adequately repay them, I can acknowledge the kindnesses shown to me. This book started at New York University as a dissertation. My dissertation committee--Danny Walkowitz, Liz Cohen, Dave Reimers, Paul Mattingly and Edward Johanningsmeier--deserves special thanks for reading a very early and...

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Introduction: Laboring Democracy [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. 3-20

This book is about an important but woefully neglected historical subject, namely industrial democracy. Industrial democracy, at its core, was an effort to square free market capitalism with democracy to provide a fair and just workplace. While important, industrial democracy has been largely missing from debates about Progressive Era democracy. What...

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I. Private Protocolism: Industrial Democracy in New York's Ladies' Garment Industry

INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY was a term that before 1909 had significant relevance only for reformers and intellectuals. Events in Progressive Era New York grounded this abstract theory into the streets of the Lower East Side. The conflicts in the ladies' garment industry provided a ready-made laboratory. The Protocols of Peace, a radical trade...

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1. Workers Organizing Industry: The New York City Garment Strikes of 1909 and 1910

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pp. 25-56

THE FIRST steps toward industrial democracy came from below, from the workers themselves. New York City's ladies garment workers in 1909, and again in 1910, forced labor into the public's consciousness, providing the spark reformers and industry activists needed to envision an alternative to the current industrial order. This chapter traces rank...

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2. The Making of Industrial Democracy in the Ladies' Garment Industry: The Creation of the Protocols of Peace

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pp. 57-93

Reformers, such as those involved with the Protocol, saw industrial democracy as the answer to industrial anarchy. "A radical transformation of society might take place," write historians Nelson Lichtenstein and Howell John Harris in Industrial Democracy in America,...

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3. The Shifting Ground of Protocolism: Struggling for the Soul of Industrial Democracy [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. 94-125

THE PROTOCOL offered a vision of industrial democracy that made little room for rank-and-file or shop-floor voices. It attempted to provide efficiency before democracy and have the former pay for the latter. Yet, workers did not passively accept the Protocol as created; workers shaped and contoured the developing industrial relations...

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II. Public Protocolism: The Triangle Fire and the Transformation of Industrial Democracy

PROTOCOLISM WAS a complex industrial regime that brought together labor, management, and "the concerned public." It was an important attempt to start a new day for industrial relations. And, it was not without its problems, as we have seen. But it took an event in 1911 to highlight the limitations of Protocolism, as it then existed...

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4. "The Burning Building at 23 Washington Place": The Triangle Fire and the Transformation of the Industrial Democracy

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pp. 129-153

The Triangle factory was one of only a handful of firms that had not settled with the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) after the 1909 Uprising, remaining a nonunion shop. Triangle's sheer size and power in the industry enabled it to resist the union. Garment manufacturers...

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5. Politics: Setting the Stage for Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York

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pp. 154-169

The Triangle Fire set into motion a series of events that transformed New York's "governing system," to use historian Alan Dawley's apt phrase, including a state apparatus (courts and legislatures), linkage institutions (parties, unions, or any other institutions that link voters to the state apparatus), and a dominant worldview or ideology.1 New York's...

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6. The Politics of Administrative Reform: The Factory Investigating Commission, 1911–1913

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pp. 170-188

THE FACTORY Investigating Commission (FIC) incorporated much from the Protocol. In addition to personnel, the FIC adopted the language of industrial democracy. The Protocols' chief goal was to modernize industry and thus gain profits through efficiencies rather than from sweating labor. The Protocol, therefore, needed to cover...

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7. Industrial Democracy Meets the Welfare State in Progressive Era New York

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pp. 189-213

The Factory Investigating Commission (FIC) transformed Protocolism and industrial democracy by bringing in the state. The state took responsibility for policing industry, ensuring humane working conditions, and setting up standard industry practices-all part of the Protocol's agenda for industrial democracy. Having achieved a limited success with this...

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Conclusion: The Historical Legacy of Industrial Democracy: From Protocolism to the New Deal

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pp. 214-222

PROTOCOLISM, THE form industrial democracy took in Progressive Era New York, proved a radical departure from the past and an important answer to "the labor question" of the day. Collective bargaining, coupled with government regulation and a welfare state's safety net, was an important marker for the twentieth century. Protocolism...

Notes

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pp. 223-281

Bibliography

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pp. 283-322

Index

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pp. 323-332


E-ISBN-13: 9781439907825
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592131754

Publication Year: 2005