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Unformatted text preview: PLIGHT OF GILDED AGE WORKERS, 1870-1900 STORY OF THE CZOLGOCZ FAMILY MAIN THEMES FOR WORK & LIFE EXPERIENCES OF GILDED AGE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS --1) workers lived very hard, physically enervating lives--with high rate of geographic mobility --2) workers labored at multiplicity of jobs, with bulk of jobs of unskilled & semi-skilled variety --3) with tremendous sacrifice & self-discipline, some working class families were able to experience periods of "getting ahead" --4) workers' families (even more?) readily experienced horrible financial reversals, largely due to circumstances beyond their control --5) employers / large corporations held disproportionate economic power & leverage over mass of workers ---workers' control over their economic fates was decidedly limited --6) this sense of vulnerability was especially acute for new immigrant & "minority" workers DID THE NEW INDUSTRIAL AGE, ON THE WHOLE, MAKE LIFE BETTER OR WORSE FOR THE NATION'S WORKERS? 2 DEFINITIONS FOR WORKERS' WELFARE: "STANDARD OF LIVING"--focus on workers' purchasing power "WAY OF LIFE"--focus on less tangible, quantitative factors (such as workers' "status" & sense of vulnerability; job fulfillment) WORKERS' PURCHASING POWER INCREASED --mostly due to falling prices (cost of living fell by 20% from 1870 to 1900) --1860-1900: real wages increased by 50% (skilled workers 75%; unskilled 31%) INCREASE IN AGGREGATE INDUSTRIAL EMPLOYMENT ---from 1870, 5X increase (chiefly in semi-skilled work) LEVASSEUR'S "3 INDISPUTABLE FACTS" --"total number of [industrial] workers far from having diminished, has steadily increased"; --"increase in average [money] wages" paid to laborers; --steady fall in "price of goods is advantageous to consumer among whom are....wage-earners" NEW MACHINERY ALTERED THE NATURE OF WORK & DEVALUED WORKERS' SKILLS --story of Carnegie Steel's undercutting steelworkers' union through intro. of open-hearth-machinery DECLINING WORKERS' "STATUS" "AMERICAN DREAM OF SUCCESS"?: KESSNER'S CASE STUDY OF LATE 19TH C. NEW YORK CITY considering the upward mobility rates of Russian Jews vs. Italians --which immigrant group "moved up" occupational ladder more quickly? (upward mobility rate of Russian Jews 2X that of Italians) KESSNER'S DEFINITION OF UPWARD MOBILITY: successfully moving from "blue collar" to "white collar" work WHITE COLLAR WORK _____________________________________________________ _ BLUE COLLAR WORK Rung #3 --- skilled labor (where Jews entered) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Rung #2 --- semi-skilled labor -------------------------------------------------------------------------------Rung #1 --- manual labor (where Italians entered) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COMPARISON OF TWO FAMILY BUDGETS --Of the two families considered below, which one was doing better in "getting ahead"? Saving & building up "capital"? 1884 FAMILY BUDGET OF AMERICAN PRINTER Five members in the family: husband & wife, three children (two boys and a girl, aged 5, 9, & 16 respectively). Occupy a house containing four rooms. EARNINGS: OF FATHER OF GIRL, 16 yrs. old TOTAL FOOD: $580 $150 $730 Breakfast coffee, meat & potatoes Dinner ---- lunch Supper ---- tea, meat, sauce etc. RENT FUEL MEAT, GROCERIES CLOTHING, DRY GOODS BOOKS UNION DUES SICKNESS SUNDRIES TOTAL $120 $30 $300 $100 $25 $6 $19 $100 $720 COST OF LIVING: 1884 FAMILY BUDGET OF ITALIAN LABORER Five members in the family: husband & wife and three children, all boys (ages 1-5). Live in one room. EARNINGS: OF FATHER TOTAL FOOD: Breakfast coffee, bread Dinner ---- soups Supper ---- coffee, bread RENT FUEL MEAT, GROCERIES CLOTHING, DRY GOODS SICKNESS TOTAL $48 $5 $100 $15 $5 $173 $270 $270 COST OF LIVING: ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course HIST 021 taught by Professor Coohill during the Spring '07 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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