NYC factory fire
A fire on March 25, 1911, killed 146 work- ers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. Of the 146, 123 were
women. Most were immigrants and many were
The fatalities were made worse because of locked
exit doors and no sprinkler system, despite previous fires at the factory.
The workers’ union organized a march in the
city to honor the victims and protest the working conditions that led to the fire. More than
About seven months later, the Sullivan-Hoey Fire
Prevention law mandated sprinkler systems in all
New York City factories.
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) recently featured the Triangle Shirtwaist fire on the
Want to dive deeper into labor history? Check
out the Pacific Northwest Labor History
Association (PNLHA) conference April 6-8 at
the Hilton in Sea Tac. This is the 50th anniversary
of the conference.
Keynote speakers include nationally recognized
social justice activists Bill Fletcher Jr. and Kent
In addition to 16 workshops, the conference
will premiere a new film: “9to5/925 Legacy,”
which looks at the 40 year history of the National
Association of Working Women and its sister
union, SEIU 925, based in Seattle. Participants
can also see the film: “Witness to Revolution” on
the 1919 Seattle General Strike and the just-released “Verona,” which explores the events
surrounding the Everett Massacre in 1916.
For more details, go to www.pnlha.org. SPEEA
has complimentary seats as a member/conference
donor. If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org by
Members of Team TacoKatz are shown above in Kent at the Washington state competition for FIRST (For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League. Below, the team is shown with Coach Greg O’Connor, back left,
their mascot, and Holly O’Connor (also a coach).
Lego robotics team learns
value of teamwork
By Karen McLean
SPEEA Publications Editor
If you’ve tried teaching adults how to work collaboratively, you
know it can be a challenge
when there is a problem to
solve and a deadline to meet.
Think how much harder it
would be for fourth graders
- who are learning important
life skills while they also
learn how to program a
robot they built from Legos.
Welcome to the world
of coaching FIRST Lego
League (FLL), which
SPEEA member Greg
O’Connor navigates with
his wife, Holly, a Boeing
manager. Their team,
TacoKatz, advanced to the state championship
and placed 19th out of 29 last month. The initial
field of competition included 568 - which makes
Washington state one of the most competitive Lego
Leagues in the world for FIRST (For Inspiration
and Recognition of Science and Technology).
Lessons learned by the O’Connors include keeping it fun with exercises such as musical chairs
and ‘blind build’ to teach collaboration and
“Having fun is one of the core values,” said
Holly, who started coaching last year, when the
TacoKatz were new to FLL. “They do that really
well - balancing fun with getting work done,”
she said, adding, “you don’t want to turn them
off” to the effort.
The ‘work’ starts with a challenge announced
Sept. 1. Competitions began in December. The
four-member TacoKatz and their two coaches
met twice a week for about 1.5 hours each time
Greg, a senior lead stress
analyst on the 777X trailing
edge, recalls the success he
saw with a team he coached
the previous school year at
Holy Rosary in Edmonds.
Greg recalls when a problem
with the robot occurred at
a competition. “Everything
went completely wrong,” he
said. Between two matches
at competition, the students
reprogrammed and rebuilt
parts of the robot.
“They didn’t fall apart, they
came together as a team,”
he said. “To see a group of
individuals, who had been
doing their own thing, come
together as a team in the
end, that’s pretty amazing.”
Holly, a former SPEEA member who is now the
deputy chief structures engineer for the 777X,
appreciates seeing the students take what they’re
learning in school and applying it to their robot.
Circumference, for example, has a whole new
meaning outside of geometry.
“It’s really neat to see them (students) form that
connection to real life with the math and science
they learn in school,” she said.
Greg calls volunteering with the TacoKatz “one of
the easiest things I could do to help us in the long
run,” to have more engineers and scientists. “You
have to light that spark before they (students) get
too old,” he said, noting that by high school, it
may be too late.
Holly and Greg both admit coaching is work. For
those who can’t commit to a team, the competitions also need volunteers.
“When all of a sudden it works, and the kids
are running around and cheering,” Holly said.
“That’s why I do this work.”
Overview of union
At the next SPEEA 101, learn about your contract andhow SPEEA operates at5 p.m., Wednesday, March 28 at SPEEA Tukwila.
To reserve a space - email email@example.com.
Members who are still within one year of their
hire date are eligible for a $50 gift card if they
attend this event.
The Northwest New Hire and Young Members
Committees are hosting this event. SPEEA 101
for Everett is coming soon.