Remarks and Suggestions by Individual Mechanics Relating to Apprenticeships, Employment of Boys in Shops and Factories, State of Trade, and Conditions in General of the Wage-Workers. 1884
From a Carpenter,
As regards apprentices, they are unknown in this city. A boy cannot be got into any place to learn a trade. The mechanics that we have now-a-days have not served an apprenticeship. A mechanic hires a laborer to help him do his work. For instance, a molder needs a helper to mold a horse-power wheel, or a mower wheel; or a blacksmith needs a striker. These helpers and strikers are kept at the same kind of work year in and year out, till they become more or less skilled in that one thing, and then they are journeymen, cheap journeymen. So with carpenters. The foreman has a laborer that he can use on a bench to take off the corners of rails, posts, etc., with a jack plane, and after a while he can plane off a smooth surface. Then he is a mechanic, ready to take the place of the man that has served an apprenticeship, though, in fact, he has no practical knowledge of the trade whatever.
From a Carpenter.
The past summer has been the dullest I ever saw. I have not worked four-fifths the time. I charge a great deal of this to the piece-work system. It would benefit the working classes wonderfully if that system could be abolished in this country.
From a Wood-Worker.
The financial condition of the laborers of this place is not very good. Our shops (agricultural) have been idle for nearly four months, and consequently workmen are out of money. Other shops are running on short time. If work does not improve before spring I think there will be a great deal of suffering, and the prospects for; an improvement are not very good. The social and educational condition of the laboring class of this town is good. We have excellent schools, and they are well attended by all classes of our people.