In the late 1900’s and early 20th century large numbers of workers where not ununionized, they did not have representation, and could not bargain/ come up with an agreement with their employers. For instance, if the employees were in a work environment that was dangerous and hazardous, and they decided to go to their boss and let them know about the issue.
The employer could simply fix the issue by firing the person whom complained, that is how things were fixed during this era. However, if the employee still decided to keep the dangerous job due to necessity, and if an accident did occur during the job, these employees would simply get nothing! This was the life of hard-working immigrants during the late 1900’s and early 20th century. Outrageous!
During the late 1900’s to early 20th century the American economy was evolving. The industrial revolution had left the country in a state of improvement and economic growth. The nation was beginning to shift from rural and agriculture to urban and industrial. New factories that began opening were in dire need of workers, in big quantities. When news broke out of the desperate need of workers, that is when millions of immigrants, immigrated to the country to fulfill the jobs being offered. Immigrants came with a mentally of escaping the poverty that they were facing in Europe.
With no legal protection or safety regulations, workers very often suffered harsh and at times unbearable conditions in the workplace. Men, woman and children, labored for extremely long hours a day in a dark unventilated factory among dangerous machines. Aside from the extreme harsh work conditions these immigrants would face, they would only get paid a few pennies per day! They would get exploited, just for being immigrants.
Due to these harsh working conditions, at times strikes from employees would take place. After many accusations of these harsh working conditions, an American author Sinclair, realized the plea these immigrants/stockyard workers were making, and decided to expose the horrors and brutality of their everyday life’s and how they were treated. The shocking reveals of the work environment was exposed through a book called “The Jungle” which was published in February 1906.
Aside from the already harsh work environments that the employers were being exposed to it did not stop there! The work that they were being paid to do was insane. They would butcher animals/cattle to sell the in parts. Meat would accidently fall to the floor that was covered in dirt and saw dust along with spit from workers and this meat would still be packaged up to be sold sanitized. There would also be meat stored in huge piles in rooms that leaked water from the roofs and would fall all over the meat. Due to this happening thousands of rats would accumulate over this meat.
Due to the harsh work conditions, it would be extremely dark in these storage rooms that the workers could literally run their hands over the piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of bugs and rats. Unfortunately, all the workers could do is feed the rats poison and just like that the rats would be transferred mixed in with the meat into the processor. One of the biggest meat produced with such things would be sausage. Not only working with rats was unbearable, they had no designated area for personal hand washing. The employees were forced to wash their filthy hands in water that would be used for processing the meat.
The outrageous exploitation that immigrants would receive during this time in era was completely insane and wrong! Woman and children were also find themselves in the position of having the necessity to work to try to make ends meet. Woman were meant to stay home to cook and clean, but they would also take in people “immigrants” and feed and them clean for them for money. Children would go to school half a day or at times not at all in order to work as well. They pay they would receive was horrible, pennies a day!
Unfortunately, not much has change today. To this day we have immigrants traveling to this country with concept of the “American Dream”. Escaping countries with violence and lack of jobs and money. Little do they know that when traveling to a different country they will suffer as well, all because they are immigrants. Immigrants are looked upon as people that have a desperate need to make money and are willing to do any job for any type of pay. In my personal opinion that is wrong. At the end of the day immigrants are also humans just like anyone else and deserve same equal treatment, regardless what country they are from.
I consider this time era the same as back in the late 1900’s and early 20th century, of course things have changed but what has not changed unfortunately is how in this era as well immigrants get exploited and over worked for very little pay. Perhaps the pay is not just pennies like back in the days, but as if. The cost of living in the United States is high, and even making minimum wage will not make ends meet, much more less making less than what the minim us. Migrating is tough, and my respect to those who have gone through this situation.