During this time period the working conditions, health issues and metal stability of workers was at an all-time low. Especially in the meat packing industries were this family had to endure many hardships. These problems include overworking their employees, failing to maintain basic safety measures, as well as being completely unsanitary. An example of this is when Jurgis is forced to work in an unheated slaughterhouse during winter, and when he sprains his ankle due to an unsafe work environment and has to go 3 months without pay.
Not only do the workers receive horrible treatment but the companies’ products do as well. Whenever meat was so spoiled that it couldn’t be used for anything else, they would rub it with soda to take away the smell and sell it to be eaten on free-lunch counters. They would also color the meat as well as put borax on it and tons of other chemistry methods just in order to sell it to consumers.
All of this overwhelming stress takes a toll on the workers, which pushes them to resort to alcohol in order to numb the pain of being overworked. However this has a more negative effect than positive, since the money they spend on alcohol isn’t going to their families, who are already extremely poor and experiencing economic issues, but to make themselves feel better. This along with the other issue include being emotional or aggressive towards their families and placing the blame on them for their hardships has a huge mental effect on the whole family and leads to the separation of them.
All of these previous issues lead to the development of union groups to help relieve the stress and provide better working conditions for employees. Later on the Meat inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act are passed, which greatly improved the meat packing industry and others.
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