REFORMING THE WORKPLACE
Horrible events such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire convinced many progressives to push for reforms of safety and health conditions in factories. Progressives lobbied hard for the creation of accident insurance programs for workers in New York and elsewhere. From 1910 to 1917, many states adopted legislation that would help to protect families of those killed or injured in workplace and mine accidents.
Progressives and labor unions oftentimes did not see eye to eye. However, one issue that some progressives and unions did agree on was the need to restrict further European immigration, especially from southeastern Europe. Immigrants were not union supporters, and increased immigration would cause a larger supply of labor, thus driving down wages. By not bringing in more immigrants that were “unlike ourselves,” supporters stated that city life and morale in the workplace would improve. To some, opposing immigration was a progressive reform. More than anything, this demonstrated that “progressivism” meant very different things to different people.