In regard to health and fatigue, outside the sheet factory, when the general vague impression that the new system was more exhausting than the other was sifted down, the grist of fact remaining was small, and consisted of the instances mentioned. About forty young women told me their experience of the work. Sometimes their mothers and their fathers talked with me about it. Every one whose health had suffered under the new task had been exhausted by some old difficulty which had remained unremedied. This point will be considered in relation to the industry of the other women workers in the other houses after the accounts of their experience of Scientific Management.
There are over 600 workers in the New Jersey cotton mill. Of these 188 are women. One hundred and ten of the women workers are at present engaged under the bonus and task system, though the management expects to employ eventually under this system all of its workers, and is in this establishment markedly in sympathy with Scientific Management. The mill is a large, well-lighted brick structure, with fields around it, and another factory on one side, on the outskirts of a factory town. The establishment is composed of a larger and newer well-ventilated building, with washed air blown through the work-rooms; and an older building, where the part of the work is carried on which necessitates both heat and dampness to prevent the threads from breaking.
The cotton, which is of extremely fine quality, comes into the picker building in great bales from our Southern sea-coast and from Egypt. It is fed into the first of a series of cleaners, from the last of which it issues in a long, flat sheet, to go through the processes of carding, combing, drawing, and making into roving. The carding product consists of a very delicate web, which, after being run through a trumpet and between rollers, forms a “sliver” of the size of two of one’s fingers, from which it issues in a long strand. This strand or sliver Is threaded into a machine with other ends of slivers and rolled out again in one stronger strand; and this doubling and drawing process is innumerably repeated, till the final roving is fed into a machine that gives it a twist once in an inch and winds it on a bobbin. There are three kinds or stages of twisting and winding roving on these machines, and at the last, the “speeders,” women are employed.
Up to this point all the workers have been men. These speeders are in the carding rooms, which are large and high, filled with great belts geared from above, and machines placed in long lanes, where the operatives stand and walk at their work. Humidifying pipes pass along the room, with spray issuing from their vents. The lint fibres are constantly brushed and wiped up by the workers, but there is still considerable lint in the air. The heat, the whir of the machines, the heaviness of the atmosphere, and the lint are at first overpowering to a visitor. While many of the girls say that they grow accustomed to these conditions, others cannot work under them, and go away after a few days’ or sometimes a few hours’ trial.