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Jurgis takes the job and begins the work of building tunnels under the city streets of Chicago.
The tunnels are a vast web, lit with electricity and laid with railroad track. A collective of corporations and businesses is building the tunnels in order to break the teamsters’ union. When “these freight tunnels were completed, connecting all the big factories and stores with the railroad depots, they would have the teamsters’ union by the throat.” The tunnels can also be dangerous, however. One night, as Jurgis is leaving the tunnel, one of the rail freight cars gets away and comes barreling down the tunnel. It hits Jurgis on the shoulder, breaking his arm and knocking him out cold.