Chapter 26 Notes from The Jungle

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The Jungle Chapter 26

After the election, Jurgis becomes Scully's consultant. He inquires at the boarding house about Elzbieta and finds that she'd gone downtown. In May, the contract between the packers and unions expired and threat of a strike loomed large. The old scale dealt only with the wages of the skilled workers, though 2/3 of the labor force is unskilled. The Packers, though they are making higher profits than ever before, are unwilling to raise the base wage. In June, all the packinghouse cities in America find that their workers have gone on strike. Scully wants Jurgis to work as a scab-a worker breaking the picket line-and tells him he didn't need him in politics. Jurgis is disappointed, but when back to work, he is well paid for his scab status. The newspapers, in full swing of yellow journalism, want to see violence in the yards between the scabs and the striking workers, but there is no violence. The strikers, instead of attacking the scabs, counsel them to see the virtue of the union's position. Meanwhile, Jurgis becomes a boss in Durham's killing rooms and finds that the demands on the workers during the strike are lessened. Many of the scabs are uncooperative and unwilling to work very hard. The packinghouses have recruited African-Americans from southern states, as well as prisoners, not telling them beforehand that they'd be working as scabs. Lodging conditions are horrible.

"All day long the blazing midsummer sun beat down upon that square mile of abominations: upon tens of thousands of cattle crowded into pens whose wooden floors stank and steamed contagion; upon bare, blistering, cinder-strewn railroad tracks and huge blocks of dingy meat factories, whose labyrinthine passages defied a breath of fresh air to penetrate them; and there are not merely rivers of hot blood and carloads of moist flesh, and rendering-vats and soup cauldrons, glue-factories and fertilizer tanks, that smelt like the craters of hell-there are also tons of garbage festering in the sun, and the greasy laundry of the workers hung out to dry and dining rooms littered with food black with flies, and toilet rooms that are open sewers." Chapter 26, pg. 328

Topic Tracking: Unfair Labor Practices 10

The men start working in more than once place and Jurgis takes payoffs to overlook it. Finally the packers agree to arbitrate and the unions accept their offer. Men are to be rehired with no discrimination against union members, but that does not happen. In fact, bosses make sure not to employ union leaders. The union goes on strike again.

Topic Tracking: Unfair Labor Practices 11

With things reaching a crisis level, the packers begin constructing a new labor force including the old scabs and new, even more unruly workers. They gamble, drink and take prostitutes. Sickness and venereal diseases run rampant in the packinghouses where they pack meat with their bare hands. Jurgis has a nasty temper, and is as ruthless with the workers as his bosses had been with him, and takes to drinking even more. There are riots in the streets, police beating and looting, and nothing is heard of it. One day, Jurgis comes upon Connor in a whorehouse and without thinking, begins to beat him senseless once again. He doesn't know that Connor is one of Scully's biggest men and this time, no one could get Jurgis out of trouble, though Harper reduced his bail. After paying his bail, Jurgis flees town again.

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