The deaths of more than 600 garment workers in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory collapse April 24 is a tragedy that highlights widespread problems in the global apparel industry… The Rana disaster has been compared to the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City. Both were at garment factories, and both resulted in many deaths (146 in Triangle). The Triangle fire has remained in our collective memories and has become a stand-in for the terrible problems of an industrializing nation. We remember it not because of the deaths — as workers sadly died regularly in American industry — but because we were made to confront it. Garment workers refused to silently go back to work. Their massive protests and collective anger forced middle-class consumers to see their own culpability, and together they sought political change.
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