Since years ago, immigrant people who want to work in America have had many problems. Seeking a job, the first thing asked is if they speak English; that is obviously because their accent makes people think that they are not Americans. Experience must be necessary to perform a job, and frequently these people don’t have the necessary experience. As result, of not speaking or rarely speaking English and not having experience immigrants may find obtaining work very difficult and the work they find is of the most brutal sort.
Ninety five years ago, the working environment in the textile mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was not too different compared to the Triangle Waist Company located in New York. In the mills the air was not safe to breathe, many people contracted respiratory diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. The use of machinery was unsafe. Workers had to be careful. Sometimes fingers got caught when the workers used these machines and noise from machines made a deafening place to work. Although the Triangle Waist Company was very small and would have fit into one corner of one room at the mills. The work place was also unsafe and unsanitary, with workrooms crowded, doors that were locked or opened inward and inadequate fire escapes.
Furthermore, wages were low in that time. The textile mills paid the workers no more that $8.75 a week per adult and $6.55 a week for children. They had no benefits. The same situation applied to the Triangle Waist Company, which paid $6.00 a week per adult and for children $ 1.50 a week. There were no benefits at all. In both of these cases “no benefits” is a generous description. If people missed a little work, they had their pay docked; if they missed a little more, they were fired.
One thing for sure was that hours of work were excessive. The mills’ workers worked approximately 56 hours per week which had to be reduced to 54 hours per week. This was similar to the Triangle Waist Company, where workers had to work 56 to 70 hours per week from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, with no extra pay for overtime, and no Fridays and Saturdays off.
Workers were living in awful conditions. The mills’ workers lived in “The Plains” rooms with many immigrants crammed together. Most rooms had one bed, and the kitchen. High rent was charged, which made it difficult for the workers to buy meat, butter and milk. Garbage-lined streets, rat infested and unsanitary conditions in the Plains made it easy for residents to get diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Similarly, the Triangle Waist Company’s workers lived in crowded tenement rooms and paid high rents.
The mills workers of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and the Triangle Waist Company workers in New York suffered greatly with the only purpose to survive in America, which was supposed to be the land of dreams for them. Dangerous work low pay, and extremely long hours still exist in many places in the world where workers are completely at the mercy of their employers.