U.S. History 10/14/2011 MW 12:00-1:55p Horrifying working conditions was not a rarity during the Progressive Era, especially for the many garment industries growing during this time. Filled with mostly young women, these sweat shop-like businesses were a popular workplace for unwed, immigrant women. Unfortunately, the rights’ of women and other garment employees were absent, leaving them in some of the most unsafe working conditions during the twentieth century. Not until March 25, 1911, when a tragic fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Manhattan leaving many workers with no exit but death, did the public see a need for drastic changes in the work place. With laissez-faire and social Darwinism, the government had no demand to interfere with big businesses, allowing them to make their own rules, safety conditions, and handle employees as they please.
Not to mention that more factories meant more employments. Working Conditions: Did working conditions improve or worsen? During Industrial Revolution, working conditions worsened. A key factor is that discipline was highly strict in factories. Working hours were exceedingly long, with people working for 16 hours, daily.
Usually it took people 3 hours to get to work. Very often hungry and exhausting people fell down and frozen. In conditions of martial laws there were not any days off and medical sick leave certificates. Under the threat of non-fulfillment of the plan people were forced to work till they became completely exhausted. Working people got food only once a day.
Work schedules usually included working 12 hour shifts, everyday of the week with only 30 minute lunch breaks. Not only is factory work grueling and long, it is also humiliating. The workers were often rushed when using the bathroom, under paid, made fun of, and searched after every work day. The clothing industry rose very quickly and by the early 1900’s, more immigrants (many female immigrants) in New York worked in clothing factories than any other industry. With the quick expansion of the clothing industry, the
They worked long hours, generally six days a week, and their wages were barely enough to sustain a family. The factories were unsafe and many workers suffered permanent injuries. Unions and strikes were illegal, making improvements for workers impossible. Marx and Engels defined these workers, the proletariat, as “a class, of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital.” The proletariat was the foundation of Russia’s industry. Yet, Tsar Nicholas II refused to acknowledge their grievances, nor did he implement measures to improve their working conditions.
Oscar Wilde, writes in The Soul Of Man Under Socialism, that for progress to be made, people have to be disobedient to the rules they are subjected to: « Agitators are absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization. » No progress can be made if everyone obeys every rule without complaining. There weren't only political protests that helped change the way the working class lived, there was also famous strikes, like the matcher's strike: They succeeded in getting higher pay and better working conditions after their strike. The workers of a Match factory were exposed to deadly substances and it was all revealed in the press, causing a scandal.
In The Beginning World War I started in 1914 and America entered in 1917 causing a labor shortage among men and women who had and did take over. The war tore families apart, forcing women to take on new roles in the work force. Approximately a million women filled the vacancies left by the men who were now overseas. Many of whom were young girls and wives that had once worked in department stores and restaurants, but left their jobs to raise families, now worked on the farms and in shipyards and factories. (Joyce Bryant 02.03.09) By late 1918, more and more women had taken over jobs once held by men.
Most of them worked up to 19 hours a day, with one-hour total break. Large, heavy and dangerous equipment was very common for children to be using. Many children ended up injured or even dead. The air they breathed from the oil or other substances, the little regard paid to their cleanliness, and the frequent changes from a warm and dense to cold and thin atmosphere were causes to sickness. The treatment of children in factories was often cruel and unusual, and the children’s safety was generally neglected.
Therefore, religion is a conservative force. For example, religion prevents a false class conscience which prevents the working class from realising their true potential and keeps them oppressed. As a result, religion prevents a true class conscience where the working class realise they are being exploited. Moreover, religion acts a form of “compensation” for the working class as the belief in God and heaven offers the working class compensation for the misery the experience through capitalism. Marxists argue that religion promises us happiness, but this is an illusion hiding the truth; true happiness can only be found in a revolution.
Child worker When the industrial revolution first came to Britain and the U.S there was a very high demand of labour. Families quickly travelled to new industrialized cities to find work. To survive in even the lowest level of poverty, families had to have every able member of the family go to work. This led to the high rise in child labour in factories. Children were not treated well, overworked, and underpaid for a long time before someone decided that things have to change.