Gilded Age Working Conditions U.S. History II Mr. Blais
Workers and Type of Work • Factory work between 1860 and 1890 continually increased. • There were 900,000 factory workers in 1860 and over three million by 1890. • People who had once held advantages over others for knowing a skill were now put out of business and forced to work in unskilled jobs. • Tasks were menial and repetitive
Working Conditions • The average worker had 10-14 hour shifts, and commonly worked six days a week • Workers made between $400-$500 a year and the minimum needed for a descent standard of living was around $600 • Some workers even had to live in company towns and shop only at company stores with company money
Hazards of the Job • In the late 1800s there were NO safety regulations • Child labor was common place and nearly a third of all school age children worked full time jobs. • Workers breathed in saw dust, coal dust, and toxic fumes • Machines were so crammed together that injuries were everyday occurrences • Work related fatalities were also common place to the point were some factories had fatalities daily.
Job Insecurity • If workers were injured the job they simply lost their job. • If killed, there was no compensation given to families. • Workers were also constantly laid off due to economic recessions • They were simply expendable due to the lack of skill necessary to do their jobs.
Efforts at Unionizing • There were attempts made by workers to unionize and create change in the workplace. • However there were issues with organization…such as: • High numbers of immigrants didn’t speak the same language • People were constantly moving from job to job • Employers would refuse to high unionized workers • Strikes failed because employers would hire all new workers