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Life As A Sawmill Worker Essay

1596 words - 6 pages

In the New York City lumber industry from 1901-1905, “the degree of accidents of the workers consisted of 57.3 percent of temporary disablement, 38.6 percent of the accidents led to permanent disablement, loss of a body part such as eye, leg, arm, fingers, hands, feet, or other internal injuries, and 3.8 percent of the accidents were fatalities.” This is a result of the combination of handling very dangerous equipment. It also comes from being around very hazardous material because the workers are not familiar with the chemicals in their working environment. Being a sawmill worker is a dirty job because of the low wages, unsafe working conditions, and the blatant gender discrimination.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor, “Lumber mill workers need strength and stamina. The increased use of equipment may make the work less strenuous. Lumber mills are hot in the summer and are often noisy and dusty. Because the work is hazardous, teamwork and alertness by all the lumber mill workers help to keep conditions safer for everyone. Some lumber mill workers are members of labor unions.”
All Diane Pierson wanted to be was a normal girl with an ideal lifestyle that consisted of worrying about what she would wear to school, sleepovers, boys, and homework. Unfortunately, she was not given this choice because her abusive father forced her to work at the sawmill at the early age of seven. Diane, who is five foot flat, did not fail to point out that she was so small that she had to sit on no less than four Coke bottle crates just to operate the forklift and other major machinery in the local sawmill. Diane is not a rare case, as a matter a fact; she was just one of many cases that involved the exploitation of child labor.
On average, the typical sawmill worker makes between $8.70 and $13.11. Annually that is between $17,000 and $19,000 (before taxes) which is just over the cost of living in Alabama, $15,500, which is a state that is renowned for having a lower cost of living than most states in the Unites States of America. Imagine a person living in New York or California with the same wages; it would be highly impractical, especially when one must take into account that the average household has 4.5 members. This proves that the wages are far too low to live a comfortable and manageable lifestyle without working extra hours or having another job. Which is a situation that Diane Pierson knows all too well because she had to support her mother, father, and son when she turned thirty-two years old and was nearing her physical peak. Diane also stated, “When you support that many people on the low wages that I was receiving from the sawmill it ended up forcing me to take on a second full time job to support my parents and give the best to my son. For roughly ten years, I would work between eighteen and twenty hours a day and on the weekends as well and when I would get home, I would sleep for a couple hours then go take lunch to my son at his...

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