In Lyddie, why do the workers wish to improve their conditions? What challenges do they face in attaining fairer conditions?

The workers wish to improve their working conditions because the working conditions are dangerous and hazardous to long term health.

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Lyddie is a hard working girl. We know that because throughout much of the story, she is asked to endure tremendously difficult working conditions to keep her family's property.

Lyddie thinks that her best chance for earning enough money to pay back her family's debts can be found by working in the mills. She isn't wrong about the potential financial earnings of being a factory girl. The pay is good; however, Lyddie and the other workers have to endure horrible working conditions to secure the money. Not only are the hours long, but the mills are a dangerous place to be. The noise is near deafening, and long term hearing damage is a concern. In the immediate short term, Lyddie and her fellow workers also risk impact damage from the machines themselves, and that is actually how Lyddie injures herself at one point in the novel.

Tuberculosis is also common among the workers, and the disease is spread through something the workers call the "kiss of death." Each girl will use her mouth to feed the thread through the final part of the shuttle. They suck out the end of the weft thread, and a single weaver could potentially contaminate dozens of shuttles by doing nothing more than this simple action. Lung diseases are also common because of the fine fibers that exist in the air. All in all, Lyddie and the other workers are being asked to endure awful conditions, and several of the girls in the novel believe that they are essentially slaves. That's why they want the petition for better working conditions to succeed. Unfortunately, signing the petition is also dangerous because a worker could find herself blacklisted from all factory work. Factory owners don't have a problem pushing their workers to the breaking point either because they know that dozens of other workers are clamoring for the jobs. The girls have to endure the conditions or they will quickly be replaced by someone else who is willing to endure the awful conditions.

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