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Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Why Workers’ Compensation, Part 1

“Jadvyga is small and delicate, with jet-black eyes and hair, the latter twisted into a little knot and tied on the top of her head.  She wears an old white dress which she has made herself and worn to parties for the last five years; it is high-waisted – almost under her arms, and not very becoming, – but that does not trouble Jadvyga, who is dancing with her Mikolas.  She is small, while he is big and powerful; she nestles in his arms as if she would hide herself from view, and leans her head upon his shoulder.  He in turn has clasped his arms tightly around her, as if he would carry her away; and so she dances, and will dance the entire evening, and would dance forever, in ecstasy of bliss.  You would smile, perhaps, to see them – but you would not smile if you knew all the story.  This is the fifth year, now, that Jadvyga has been engaged to Mikolas, and her heart is sick.  They would have been married in the beginning, only Mikolas has a father who is drunk all day, and he is the only other man in a large family.  Even so they might have managed it (for Mikolas is a skilled man) but for cruel accidents which have almost taken the heart out of them.  He is a beef-boner, and that is a dangerous trade, especially when you are on piecework and trying to earn a bride.  Your hands are slippery, and your knife is slippery, and you are toiling like mad, when somebody happens to speak to you, or you strike a bone.  Then your hand slips up on the blade, and there is a fearful gash.  And that would not be so bad, only for the deadly contagion.  The cut may heal but you can never tell.  Twice now, within the last three years, Mikolas has been lying at home with blood poisoning – once for three months and once for nearly seven.  The last time, too, he lost his job, and that meant six weeks more of standing at the doors of the packing houses, at six o’clock on bitter winter morning, with a foot of snow on the ground and more in the air.  There are learned people who can tell you out of the statistics that beef-boners make forty cents an hour, but, perhaps, these people have never looked into a beef-boner’s hands.”

from The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair.  Written in 1906, five years before the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and years before United States workers’ compensation laws were passed.

This book is a major reason that Warnken, LLC has a team of workers’ compensation lawyers laboring on behalf of injured workers.  You have to believe in what you do.  We believe in going to bat for injured workers.  We believe in helping to keep workers’ comp laws and protections strong on behalf of those who earn profit for owners.

What’s the difference between The Jungle of 1906 and now for the modern worker?  There are a host of differences, but the single greatest difference is workers’ compensation protection.  Everytime we weaken workers’ comp laws across the country, we take society slightly closer to The Jungle.