By David A. Zonderman
Aspirations and Anxieties is a operating category highbrow heritage of early manufacturing unit operatives in antebellum New England. The publication makes a speciality of the operatives' perceptions of technological and socio-economic adjustments within the mechanized place of work. The learn uncovers a fancy debate over many elements of the manufacturing facility system--the machines and manufacturing unit constructions, wages and hours, family members among managers and employees, and the content material and personality of protest. eventually, the e-book argues that the roots of this debate lie within the fight to outline the that means of labor itself in a interval of profound social swap.
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Extra resources for Aspirations and Anxieties: New England Workers and the Mechanized Factory System, 1815-1850
26 The weavers at the Massachusetts Corporation of Lowell, in the spring of 1846, tried to stop this cycle of increasing workloads and decreasing wage rates by confronting directly the problem of the stretch-out. The company proposed that weavers tend four looms and reduce their piece rate by one cent. The weavers unanimously adopted a pledge not to abide by the company's new work rules. In view of the rapid increase of labor without a corresponding renumeration, therefore, we the weavers of No.
In 1840, a day's work was 120 yards— the wages for the same, 75 cents. Now a day's work is 140 yards—the wages 44 cents. 25 This report summed up many of the problems workers saw in the speedup and stretch-out—the physical toll of the intense labor, the constant reduction of piece rates, and the knowledge that their extra efforts were being exploited by the owners. Sarah Bagley, once she became a leading critic of the factory system, also voiced her qualms about the increased speed of labor in the mills.
But this process eventually proved to be a kind of zero-sum game, because workers without any skills could not run complex machinery, no matter how automatic the mechanical operations seemed to be. Some modicum of skill was still needed in spite of such technological development; workers without any knowledge or incentive to run machinery properly were of no value in the factory. In at least one instance, weavers resisted a mechanical innovation, perhaps because they thought that it would undermine their control over their work.