Margaret Bainum in 1944, working as a machinist/lathe operator at Westinghouse Electric in Emeryville.
The story of the home front during World War II is the story of Kaiser Permanente’s beginnings and the birth of its close working relationship with labor unions—and current efforts to preserve the historic buildings in and around the Richmond shipyards are preserving Kaiser Permanete and union history, too.
When the war ended, the health plan that had been established by Henry Kaiser and Sidney Garfield, MD for the shipyard and construction workers grew into the Kaiser Permanente Foundation Health Plan. Labor unions—first the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and then Retail Clerks Union—provided the first members.
Event to raise money for preservation
So Kaiser Permanente employees, especially those directly involved in the Labor Management Partnership, might take special interest in events that support the development and activities of the Rosie the Riveter/ World War II Home Front National Historical Park.
One such event is coming up May 8—a benefit dinner at “Rosie’s Restaurant,” aka the cafeteria at Richmond Shipyard No. 3. The dinner is hosted by the Rosie the Riveter Trust, which supports the activities of the 10-year-old national park.
The dress code is casual—“’40s and machine shop wear encouraged.” To attend the dinner, the cost of which is partially tax deductible, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit the Rosie the Riveter Trust website.
Personal stories wanted
Trust and park materials note that both organizations are working to preserve more than the physical landscape—there is also the human story of the home front to record. The chain of events set in motion by the war, with rural citizens moving to industrial centers and thousands of women moving into the workforce to take on jobs that had previously been considered “men’s work,” had a lasting impact on the nation.
If you or someone you know has a World War II civilian home front story to share, please visit the national historical park’s website or contact the park at 510-232-5050.
Photo credit: Courtesy RosieTheRiveter.org