The collapse last Wednesday of a Bangladeshi factory complex — the latest, deadliest chapter in the story of miserable labor conditions in the international garment industry — must seem distant to many Americans. Their tragedy is not ours because their working conditions, and construction regulations, are not ours.
But the story of manufacturing half a world away is as close as the Lycra-cotton cloth that swaddles us. It is as intimate to our private interests as our boxers are, stitched in those bunkers by hands we never see and rarely consider.
Similar disasters happened here in the first phase of our national industrialization — the 1878 Washburn mill explosion in Minneapolis, the 1905 Grover Shoe Factory disaster in Brockton, Mass., the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan — but back when New England textile mills were the beating heart of America’s mass-production infancy, the most notorious was the 1860 collapse of the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Mass.… Seguir leyendo »