History Comes Alive at Mock Trial

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

History Comes Alive at Mock Trial(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)Samuel Gompers was admonished for proselytizing, Frances Perkins called the event life changing, the Fire Chief was almost held in contempt for calling Max Blanck a liar and in the end the factory owners were found not guilty, despite the gruesome workplace deaths of 146 women. It all took place at the December 3 mock trial of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners Max Blanck and Issac Harris, organized by Prince Georges Memorial Library System head of adult programming and UFCW Local 1994 member Doug Adolphsen, working with the debate team at Montrose Christian school and local fire officials. Gompers -- played by UFCW Local 1994 Field Representative Josh Ardison -- drew the admonition from Judge William D. Missouri when he said that "If these women had a contract, had the right to bargain their wages and working conditions, this would not have happened!" The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was one of the most devastating and deadly workplace fires in U.S. History, killing 146 mostly immigrant women who had been locked in to their sweatshop and either burned or plunged to their deaths on the streets below in New York City in 1911. The roles of fire investigators were played by members of the Prince George‚Äôs County Fire Department and a  number of other PGCMLS employees and Local 1994 members participated, including PGCMLS employee and Local 1994 member Sue Smithers, who played the role of Frances Perkins, an eyewitness to the tragedy who later became the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt. The jury, picked by lottery from the audience, rendered the verdict of not guilty based on the law at that time. - report/photos by Lisa Gebbia


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