Beyond inequality: How American employers brazenly mistreat their workers

Courtesy of The Week. By Jeff Spross

In 1970, before he became a blues legend, Stevie Ray Vaughan was working as a dishwasher in Dallas. One of his jobs was cleaning out the trash bin. To do it, Vaughan had to stand on some large wooden barrels, which was where the kitchen crew dumped hot grease. One day, while he was cleaning, the top of the barrel gave way and he fell in.

Luckily for Vaughan, it had been a while since the last grease dump, so the stuff had cooled and he was able to safely climb out of the muck. But shortly after, the crew came in and dumped a fresh boiling vat. Had Vaughan fallen in a few minutes later, he likely would’ve been cooked alive.

“That’s the last job I’ve had other than playing guitar,” Vaughan later said.

This alone could serve as a fine example of the unsafe conditions and other indignities millions of poorer working Americans have to put up with at their jobs, given that most will never escape by discovering a virtuoso talent for the guitar.

But this is the best part: The next day, Vaughan’s boss fired him for breaking the barrel. The kid could have been severely injured or killed, and he lost his job for his trouble.

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