Human Exploitation in the United States

By Norman Thomas | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XIII
THE LABOR STRUGGLE

A long queue of poorly dressed men and women waits patiently, even cheerfully, in the cold drizzle of a raw December day outside the shack where their own strike relief committee is giving out provisions. It is the first time for days that there have been provisions to give out and these slabs of fat-back and bags of flour and beans look like rations fit for a king! There is no coal for any of the workers who live in the flimsy houses of the mill village except a little for the sick, and this is zealously guarded. The rest burn green wood which farmers have let them cut from their lots, or they send their children out to grub for any stray pieces of coal along the cinder road which keep travelers from sinking deep into the Virginia mud. There is a little milk available because the cow committee has taken over the collective support of such cows as the strikers may own, and the committee divides the milk. A few blocks away from the commissary, the militia, puzzled boys with guns, keep dreary sentry duty around a great modern factory. The rain drips off their tin hats onto the heavy military coats. The soldiers are warmer than the strikers who stand shivering in line, waiting for provisions. Not far away stretch the long lines of company cottages, each with its out-house as a conspicuous ornament. The homes are neatly painted, but small and bleak, yet at the moment, now that some food has come, the chief anxiety of the workers is the report that they are all to be evicted from these shacks.

An April day in a field on the outskirts of a New Jersey

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