Long hours and poor pay were but two reasons that shops like the Levine's stirred controversy.
Consumers, reformers and workers feared these cramped, often dirty factories were havens for danger and disease. The Levine's kitchen certainly could have aroused such concerns. Jenny Levine cooked at the same stove that the presser used to heat his irons. On cold nights, tenement-dwelling parents placed the crib near the stove to keep their children as warm as possible.
Late 19th Century reformers branded factories operating in tenement apartments as sweatshops. However, shop bosses, workers, reformers, consumer advocates and politicans clashed over ways to make garment shops safe.