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What were the working conditions like of the Meat Packers in the 1900’s ?

by tom44 on August 2, 2013

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Question by fruitsbasket83: What were the working conditions like of the Meat Packers in the 1900’s ?
and is it still the same today?

Best answer:

Answer by Nurisim
Absolutely atrocious. Read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair if you want a really vivid description. You can find the worst excerpts on the internet probably. Things are better. By how much? I don’t know. Meat packing is a disgusting dirty business in any age. But it was really, really bad in bygone days.

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One thought on “What were the working conditions like of the Meat Packers in the 1900’s ?

  1. bearstirringfromcave says:

    Yes – – – though modern safety & health regulations have cleaned up the meat packing industry it is still a grind house industry mostly employing illegal & uynproperly documented immigrants willing to work ten to twelve hours a day at a hectic paste surrounding by slaughtered animals.
    Arguably worse in 1900 then now in 2009, sanitation was not a big concern of the owners in 2900 and anything that fell into vats of meat parts were turned into meat-byproducts; rats, roaches, fingers, snot, all went into canned meat products.
    Now it should be said that in 1900 as Now, there were many who did not believe in the allegations made by Upton SInclair in his book The Jungle. Just as now Republicans will tell you that factory workers in Detroit and elsewhere make $ 80 bucks an hour for an eight hour day and only work for three hours, then Republicans loudly said that the meat packing industry was among the safetest healthiest industries around.

    But you asked about working condiitions; poor lighting, poor ventilation, no safety rails on steep staircases, floor slippery from animal fat & blunt, most of the work was done by brute labor even with mechanical devices in play, even if an animal carcass weighing 400 pounds were held on a hook a person by themselves had to put that carcass on a hook, in under thirty seconds.

    Then as now SPEED was the thing. Work fast, faster, the more dead animals that can be processed the bigger the pay out for the owners & stokeholders of a meat packing company. The workers not only worked for low wages, but in 1900 foreigners willing to work for even lower wages were brought in and those workers unwilling to take a pay cut were booted out of a job. Nowadays, if Illegals from Mexico want a certain wage, well heck even poorer people from Bolivia are willing to do the job, and so on…. Working fast also means acciddents, and ten as now, the poorest of the poor did not have access to medical care. But so what if they got sick and died, there was always someone else willing to do the job.


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