As A Seamstress


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as a seamstress Work and labour

Work and labour have been around forever, although it did not always work to the standards that we are used to today.  Over the years, many hard working and deprived people had to fight for the rights that are taken for granted today.  Are safety and health involved with work?  Is work dangerous for your health?  I will try to answer these questions by summarising four short commentaries as well as adding my opinion.
  Through out history, people have put workers in danger and sometimes added elements that they thought were actually helping to protect their workers, but instead were actually adding danger to the workers.  There is no better example of this than that of the mining industry.  As we know, mining in deep caverns can be very dangerous, but the most damage received was even before you stepped into the mine. "Dust to Dust" by Charlie Angus explains this theory.  There is a mining sickness that has taken many lives. It is called Silicosis.                                                 "In gold mines, the silica is found in the quartz veins that surround the ore.  Disturbed dust attacks and lacerates the lining of the lung with it's jagged, crystalline edges. In the confined spaces underground, a miner has no choice but to breath in large amounts of silica dust. The effects of long term exposure are a litany of elements related to the breathing of this dust: silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, silica tuberculosis, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis and corpulminary (right-heart failure)."  Dust to Dust.                               Many people were getting very sick, leaving the mines and some were even dying due to these horrible working conditions and diseases. The mining company came up with, what they thought, was a solution. Before entering the mine the miners were put in a sealed room where they would inhale aluminum dust that was supposed to prevent silicosis.  However, this was never  medically proven. What they found out was that, not only was it not fully doing its job, but that it might be causing another devastating decease called Alzheimer's. Any one is susceptible to Alzheimer's after being exposed to aluminum for a long time.  Imagine if you are inhaling it for fifteen minutes a day.  Although at the beginning of this century proper mine ventilation was considered an exorbitant expense, it was now obvious  that's what needed to be done even though the owners didn't think so. The workers pulled together and fought for more ventilation and better working conditions. What about the hundreds of miners who died and left families behind?                                                    "They were proud women, ashamed to go before the compensation board and ask for a handout. But, unable to keep the family together on the money they earned as seamstresses or housekeepers, they would finally file claims, only to be told that their husband's death was not work related. His rotted lungs and aggravated heart had come not from mining, but from cigarettes and a bad eastern European diet." Dust to Dust.
  Not only can work be bad for your physical health but also your mental health. Every year many people suffer depression and some even commit suicide due to workplace stress.  "Workplace Stress" by Cathy Walker explains that in the year 1989, after the signing of the free trade agreement, four workers, all from the same General Motors plant in St. Therese, committed suicide within a six month period. The main workplace stresses the article gives are as follows.                                                  
 "   Machine pacing of work-rhythm and machine control of work methods.                                                                 Monotonous, repetitive work, activates only a limited part of total human capabilities.
      Lack of possibilities of contact with other people as part of the on-going work.
      Piece rate and related payment systems.
      Authoritarian and detailed control of the individual, be it through foreman or impersonal "systems" (e.g., computer-based planning systems)." Workplace Stress.
   " Bias in Workers Compensation Board Policies" Workplace Stress.
After years of untreated workplace stress companies have begun to sympathize with, and compensate the workers. There is a problem with the big compensation boards.  Many believe that they are bias against blue collar workers, women and maybe racist. Examples of this are episodes where a manager or foreman has experienced stress ... more

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3 negros
In the period after Reconstruction the position of African Americans in southern American society steadily deteriorated.  After 1877 the possibilities of advancements for African Americans disappeared almost completely.  African Americans experienced a loss of voting rights and political power created by methods of terrorization such as lynching.  The remaining political and economic gains that were made during reconstruction were eventually whittled away by Southern legislation.  By the 1900s African Americans had almost no access to political, social, or economic power.  Shortly after this Jim Crow laws began to emerge, segregating blacks and whites.  This dramatic transition from African American power to powerlessness after reconstruction gave birth to two important leaders in the African American community, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois.   Although these two remarkable men were both in search of a common goal, their roads leading to this goal were significantly different.  This is most evident in the two most important documents of the mens careers: Booker T. Washingtons, 1895 Atlanta Exposition Speech and W.E.B. DuBois response to this, The Souls of Black Folks.  These two men were both dedicated to solving the difficult problems African Americans experienced in the post reconstruction south.  Both DuBois and Washington wanted economic prosperity for African Americans but they differed on what would be done to achieve this.  Both men focused on education as a key to the improvement of black life but they differed on the form education should take.  The true difference in these mens extremely different routes to better the lives of African Americans after reconstruction was a product of their extremely different backgrounds.  In this essay I will examine the documents, 1895 Atlanta Exposition Speech by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks in order to determine the paths that each of these men took towards the advancement of African Americans, and the reasons behind these methods.
DuBois and Washington came from extremely different backgrounds.  These differences are essential to understanding why each of these men went about trying to achieve progress for their race in the way they did.  DuBois, the son of free parents, was born a free man and grew up in a white environment with more privileges and advantages than the majority of African Americans living in the United States at that time.  He suffered neither severe economic hardship nor from repeated encounters with racism.  In contrast, Booker T. Washington was born a slave on a Virginia plantation.  In the first chapter of his Autobiography, Up From Slavery, he states, My life had its beginning in the midst of the most miserable, desolate, and discouraging surroundings.  This is in direct contrast with the life of W.E.B. Dubois.  After the Civil War Washington and his family were declared free.  Washington worked his way up from being a slave and eventually became a student at the Hampton Institute in Virginia.  These extremely different backgrounds effected both of these mens political, social, and economic views.  Throughout his life Washington had a pessimistic view of whites and saw the only way to achieve progress was to tell whites what they wanted to hear.  DuBois had a more optimistic view.  Growing up mostly with whites DuBois has a romantic belief in America.  He believes that whites have a morality deep down that only needs to be stirred up.  At a time when more than one hundred African Americans were lynched each year in the south Washingtons perception seems much more realistic.  
The debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois reflected the economic despair that African Americans in the South felt.  The Southern economy was suffering from its extreme racism and Washington saw this as an opportunity to create economic opportunities for blacks.  Booker T. Washingtons, Atlanta Exposition Speech was given at an industrial fair in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Industrial fair was the showcase for the new south and a symbol of the progress the south had made in industry since the end of the civil war.  It was the perfect place to make a speech advocating that Southern business owners, Cast down your buckets where you are. Meaning they use the labor of blacks which was readily available around them.  To further entice white capitalists ... more

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  • Work and labour Work and labour Work and labour Work and labour have been around forever, although it did not always work to the standards that we are used to today. Over the years, many hard working and deprived people had to fight for the rights that are taken for granted today. Are safety and health involved with work? Is work dangerous for your health? I will try to answer these questions by summarising four short commentaries as well as adding my opinion. Through out history, people have put workers in danger and sometime...