Archive for April, 2014

Henry J. Kaiser takes a page from Ford’s book

posted on April 28, 2014

Concept of welding rather than riveting in ship production borrowed from Henry Ford’s manufacturing process

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

General-Layout-Richmond-Shipyards-med

Richmond, California – Ford Assembly plant surrounded by four Kaiser shipyards, 1944

Willow Run plant, circa 1951; from The Kaiser Story, page 41

Kaiser-Frazer Willow Run plant, circa 1951. The “arched eyebrow” split windshield indicates that these are likely Kaiser Deluxes.

Henry J. Kaiser had admired the mass-production advances that allowed Henry Ford to make cars more efficiently.

In late 1940, before Kaiser embarked on the largest shipbuilding project in world history, he sent a close associate to survey a Ford assembly plant.

Results of that visit opened Kaiser’s eyes to the advantages of welding over riveting. That insight, along with the pre-assembly of ship parts and streamlining the flow of materials, was crucial to the breathtaking output of Kaiser’s new shipyards.

Kaiser wasted little time maintaining his momentum as a major American industrialist after the end of World War II.

With his massive West Coast shipyards closing down, and his nascent health care program that would eventually blossom as Kaiser Permanente just beginning, he turned his attention to automobiles.

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Henry Ford II, wife Anne Ford, Henry J. Kaiser, wife Bess Kaiser; Oakland train station, 1946

On Aug. 9, 1945, Kaiser formally announced a partnership with veteran automobile industry executive Joseph Frazer to form the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation.

Kaiser was particularly interested in producing affordable transportation for the American public. Kaiser-Frazer leased the Willow Run manufacturing plant near Ypsilanti,  Michigan, built by Ford in 1942 to build World War II bombers. Within nine months workers in the plant were breaking records for the number of newly built cars.

K-F’s labor relations were good, which helped them to pump out cars in 1946 during the GM strike and the stalled Ford and Chrysler contract negotiations. And in 1949, Kaiser and Ford were on opposite sides of labor law regarding a Taft-Hartley Act representation interpretation.

The National Labor Relations Board’s first decision under Taft-Hartley in 1947 excluded foremen from collective bargaining rights. This ruling was challenged: Kaiser felt that foremen should be included in bargaining units; Ford did not. But the Senate-revised 1949 Labor-Management Relations Act affirmed that foremen could not have collective bargaining rights.

While Henry J. Kaiser and Henry Ford II (president of the Ford Motor Company from 1945 to 1960) may have been business rivals, their relationship was not antagonistic. Newspaper photos of the two with their spouses projected a message of collegiality.

By the late 1950s Kaiser’s automobile venture was grinding to a halt, and all that remained were overseas plants and the Jeep line of rugged vehicles (under Kaiser from 1953-1969). Ford bought out Kaiser-Frazer’s operations in Brazil in 1967, the year Henry Kaiser died.

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1keEFep

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Nursing school alumni commission sculpture to honor profession

posted on April 24, 2014

 

Model of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing commemorative clay sculpture.

Clay model of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing commemorative bronze sculpture to be placed on the grounds of the new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center.

Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing grads launch fundraising campaign

By Deloras Jones, RN, MS
Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing
Alumni Association
Board member

Sidney Garfield, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s co-founder with Henry J. Kaiser, had a vision for health care. A key component of his dream was high-quality care and the requisite excellent education and training for the physicians and nurses who would take care of the health plan’s patients.

Garfield articulated his hopes for the future in the “Second Annual Report of the Permanente Foundation Hospital,” 1945:

We have mentioned previously our conviction that teaching and training is essential to quality maintenance.

We are planning an accredited school of nursing which will be free from the traditional pressure of economics on nursing education, and permit proper emphasis and time in the purely medical aspect of instruction, carrying this on to nursing specialization in the various fields and medical care on a parallel with resident physician training in medicine.

In line with Garfield’s vision: The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing opened its doors in 1947 at the Oakland hospital offering a three-year diploma program. Over the decades, strong leadership and high academic standards earned the school a reputation as an exemplary institution.

The school was noted for its recruitment of students that represented the diversity of the community – this set it apart from most others at that time in California.

From the beginning, students took general education and science courses at nearby College of Holy Names in Oakland and Contra Costa College in El Sobrante; this allowed them to earn credits that were transferable to a four-year college where they could pursue higher degrees.

KFSN students participated in clinical rotation programs in rehabilitation, community, and rural health.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the school’s California licensing board examination scores were consistently in the top three in the state.

In 1976, the school graduated its last class, as the Board of Trustees was unsuccessful in developing a partnership with a four-year college to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing.  Over a period of 30 years, 1,065 nurses were educated at the school of nursing.

Oakland Medical Center’s rich history to be told

The 2014 opening of the new Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center is a unique opportunity to commemorate the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing’s contribution to the heritage of Kaiser Permanente.

Medical center planners have set aside space in the main corridor of the new specialty medical office building for the recounting of Oakland Kaiser Permanente’s history. The Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association has collaborated with medical center officials and the Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources staff to develop a portion of the display to recognize the school of nursing.

Additionally, the alumni association plans to raise funds to pay for a life-size bronze sculpture of a student nurse. The statue will be given to the Oakland Medical Center, which was the home of the nursing school.

The sculpture will be placed in a prominent location on the new Oakland campus, serving as a monument to the legacy of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing and to honor the nursing profession as a whole.

The likeness of the nurse with a child will remind passers-by of the essential contribution nurses make to the health of the community and the care they provide to all patients.

Sculpture fundraising project under way

The alumni association has launched a $100,000 fundraising campaign to commission the sculpture.  Staff, friends, and colleagues are invited to contribute to this commemoration of the school of nursing and recognition of the nursing profession.

Community Initiatives, a not-for-profit organization, serves as the 501(c) (3) fiscal sponsor for the KFSNAA; thus, contributions to the sculpture are tax-exempt.

Deloras Jones, board member and Heritage Project Director of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association

Deloras Jones, board member and Heritage Project director of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association

Please make donation checks out toNursing Education Heritage Project/CI. 

Mail to:
Nursing Education Heritage Project/Community Initiatives

354 Pine Street, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94104

Scholarships for nursing students

The nursing school alumni association’s mission also includes promoting professional nursing careers and the advancement of the profession through scholarships for nursing education.

Editor’s note: Deloras Jones, RN, MS, retired Kaiser Permanente nursing leader, is a member of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing Alumni Association Board and serves as the association’s Heritage Project director. She graduated from the school with the Class of 1963.

Clair Lisker, RN, MSc, retired Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center nursing administrator, longtime nursing school faculty member and graduate of the Class of 1951, provided historical information for this article.

 

 http://bit.ly/1hqlz6C

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Kaiser On-the-Job: Streamlining Workers’ Compensation Care

posted on April 22, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Previous part: “Injured on the job! The history of Kaiser Workers’ Compensation care

Beginning with Dr. Sidney Garfield’s pioneering developments in occupational medicine in the 1930s, and Henry J. Kaiser’s expansion of that care for thousands of workers in his seven West Coast shipyards and Fontana steel mill, further advances in programs for handling worker health care evolved as did labor in America.

After the end of World War II, the composition of the national workforce bagan to shift from blue-collar to white-collar occupations, and the percentage of the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan devoted to industrial care waned. Still, in 1967 over a fifth of the Permanente Medical Group’s (the entity of the KP Health Plan that represents doctors) income was derived from industrial medicine.[i]

Yet a prejudice about this sphere of medicine had grown where many doctors had become cynical about both employee and employer versions of injury. As PMG Director Dr. Cecil Cutting ruefully commented, “…we practice Industrial Medicine in a manner which ranges from half-hearted to reluctant, reserving our active interest and most attentive effort for the care of Health Plan patients.”

"New Occupational Medicine Clinic" Planning for Health, Santa Clara Valley edition, Winter 1994

“New Occupational Medicine Clinic” Planning for Health, Santa Clara Valley edition, Winter 1994

KP developed a bad reputation among insurers as being uncooperative in processing the admittedly large amount of paperwork required for industrial claims. Dr. Cutting found this unacceptable, and sought to overhaul and invigorate its industrial medicine practice. He hired the respected and experienced Dr. Walter Hook to oversee the creation of Departments of Industrial Medicine at all major medical centers, each headed by a Chief.

The efforts paid off, and in less than two years the number of industrial patients grew from 21,257 to approximately 33,892.[ii] These departments were not clinical services, but handled the reporting and billing functions required to process workers’ compensation claims.

 
Kaiser On-the-Job

During the 1980s California employers saw dramatic workers’ compensation cost increases. The workers’ compensation system quadrupled in size between 1983 and 1993, from $2.5 billion to $11 billion, and efforts were made to contain costs and streamline services.

KOJ-NW clip

Still from video story on KP Northwest KOJ, 1996.
Click on image to see video.

Kaiser Permanente responded with a program called “Kaiser On-the-Job” (KOJ), first started in the Northwest Region in 1991. The program was implemented with the goals of meeting employer needs to decrease employee time lost from work and to help reduce health costs related to workplace injuries. KOJ now covers more than 300,000 workers in the NW Region’s service area.

To achieve optimal patient outcomes, it incorporated prevention, case management, clinical protocols, and return to work programs with impressive results. Between 1990 and 1994, the NW Region reduced average loss time per claim by more than two days and achieved a cost savings of $666 in average cost per claim.

The program was so successful that it received the Northwest Region’s 1996 James A. Vohs Award for Quality.[iii] Soon afterward, the Hawaii Region started opening KOJ clinics on the islands of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii.

This approach was soon adopted in other KP settings. Dr. Doug Benner, Coordinator of Regional Occupational Health Services at the time, remarked: “We had a system that just wasn’t working for employers, and wasn’t working for our physicians and staff either…This model goes a long way toward fulfilling our members’ expectations for access and service.”[iv]

Kaiser On-The-Job brochure graphic, 2012

Kaiser On-The-Job brochure graphic, 2012

KOJ later expanded to California in 1993 when Northern California started building dedicated occupational health centers integrated with our KP program, eventually opening 30 KOJ centers.

In January, 1993 the first of the new KP “one-stop” occupational health clinics opened at the Bayhill Medical Offices in San Bruno. A network of occupational health clinics were fully equipped and staffed with physicians, nurses, and physical therapists specialized in treating work-related injuries. Whereas injured workers frequently used KP’s regional emergency rooms as a first resort, they are now directed by their employers to seek care at the Occupational Health Centers.  

Kaiser On-the-Job occupational clinics in the Northwest region were featured in KP’s Perspectives video magazine, promoting the innovative provision of “comprehensive array of services for the workplace.”

Four KP Divisions (Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, and Hawaii) now operate KOJ programs that share many of the same clinical guidelines, care philosophies and processes, and – most important – the same commitment to integrated managed care.[v]

Work will always pose hazards. But the treatment of injuries on the job, which was the spark that in 1933 led to the eventual formation of Kaiser Permanente, continues to be one of the many ways that this health care organization serves this nation’s working people.

 

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1i7dUup


Special thanks to Dr. Doug Benner, Coordinator of Regional Occupational Medicine Services (1993 to 2011) and Connie Chiulli (Director of Operations, Occupational Health Service Line, Regional Occupational Health, TPMG) for help with this article.

[i] Newsletter from the desk of the Executive PMG Director, June, 1967.

[ii] Newsletter from the desk of the Executive PMG Director, March 1970.

[iii] <http://kpnet.kp.org/qrrm/perf_imp/vohs2/winners/winspast_desc.htm>

[iv] “Designated Occupational Medicine Services: New Model of Care for Injured Workers, Opening Soon Everywhere,” Contact, 12/1993.

[v] http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/fall98pj/works.html

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Earth Day – Awakening an environmental citizenry

posted on April 21, 2014
"Aerial photographs during the strike" Kaiser Steel, Fontana 1972

Cover of “Aerial photographs during the strike” published by Kaiser Steel, Fontana 1972

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

The first national “Earth Day” on April 22, 1970 was an indicator of increased national environmental consciousness, and community relations with the Kaiser steel mill in Fontana, Calif. had grown tense. The wartime facility had fired up its first blast furnace, “Bess No. 1” (named after Kaiser’s wife), on December 30, 1942, and boasted numerous technologies to reduce air and water pollution. Yet smog was invading the formerly pristine remote rural community, and many fingers pointed toward the mill.

In February 1972 the United Steelworkers of America Local No. 2869 started a 43-day strike that shut down the sprawling facility. Taking to heart Henry J. Kaiser’s famous proclamation that “Problems are only opportunities in work clothes,” management saw the situation as a way to help dispel the persistent criticisms. They embarked on a project to document Fontana’s skies when the “variable” of an operating steel mill was absent. An independent series of aerial photos – some with filthy air, some without – provided evidence that east-blowing Los Angeles basin smog might be the culprit.

Read the full story here.

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1kUnEIW

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The Silverbow sails for Oahu

posted on April 17, 2014
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SS Permanente Silverbow sailing out of the San Francisco Bay, April 17, 1950.

Henry J. Kaiser’s Permanente Cement works had just begun operations in 1939 when he learned that the U.S. Navy wanted to improve on deliveries of cement to Hawaii.

Kaiser claimed he could cut loading and unloading times by as much as 80 percent by pumping bulk, dry cement from ship holds into storage silos in Honolulu. Cynics said the cement would be ruined, but Kaiser guaranteed the product “…from our San Jose plant to the wheelbarrow in Hawaii.”

In October 1940, Kaiser & Co. purchased an aging freighter (the SS Ancon) from the Panama Canal Company and converted it to a bulk cement carrier. The ship went into service as the SS Permanente in March 1941 under contract with the U.S. Navy.

The SS Permanente was moored at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. The ship was not damaged and had already offloaded its holds when the attack came. Within a few days the silos holding the offloaded cement were emptied for the emergency rebuild of the harbor.

By 1945 there were newer, faster, surplus freighters available, and the old SS Permanente was scrapped.

Two years later the Permanente Cement Company purchased a Victory-class cargo ship that had entered service in 1944, the SS Silverbow Victory. When this ship was refitted to carry cement, she was given the name, the SS Permanente Silverbow. She bore cement to the isles until Kaiser built a cement plant on Oahu in the 1950s.

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Injured on the job! The history of Kaiser Workers’ Compensation care

posted on April 16, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Part one of a two-part series

Unless one has the unfortunate experience of being injured on the job, one is usually unaware of a parallel health care system – the medical treatment provided as a benefit through the Workers’ Compensation Insurance system.

Regular health issues (diseases or injuries suffered while not at work) are handled through fee-for-service doctors or their insurance/health plan counterparts. But if something bad happens on the job, another set of rules apply. Employers are legally required to provide benefits to employees, including medical coverage, and treatment for these injuries is carried out by a separate system of insurance or self-insurance. Care is usually delivered by physicians specializing in Occupational Medicine. 

Early in the 20th century industrial injuries were rising, organized labor was becoming more powerful, and legislation was sought to mitigate the medical and legal consequences of on-the-job accidents. California’s first workers’ compensation law was the voluntary Compensation Act in 1911, followed by the Workers’ Compensation, Insurance and Safety Act of 1913 (the Boynton Act). For the first time, employers were required to provide benefits for all employees injured on the job. The employers benefited from expanded limitations on their legal liability. The Act also established a competitive state insurance fund, and it remains the foundation for workers’ compensation in California today.

Dr. Sidney Garfield’s desert experience

Worker-patient at Contractors General Hospital, under the care of Dr. Sidney Garfield, circa 1934.

Worker-patient at Contractors General Hospital, under the care of Dr. Sidney Garfield, circa 1934.

When Kaiser Permanente founding physician Dr. Sidney Garfield (along with partner Dr. Gene Morris) first set up his 12-bed Contractors General Hospital way out in the Mojave Desert in 1933, he wasn’t trying to revolutionize health care practice in America. He was simply a young doctor taking on a reasonably safe business opportunity, serving the medical needs of some of the 5,000 men working on the Colorado River Aqueduct Project who were insured through workers’ compensation.

Dr. Garfield soon found his practice foundering because the workers’ compensation insurance companies handling industrial injuries were sending the most serious – and most profitable – cases to favored Los Angeles hospitals. They also challenged many charges as unnecessary and were often late in paying. In addition, the remote setting of the work camps meant that these hospitals were the only place the workers could be treated for non-industrial diseases – something for which they could rarely afford to pay full fee.

Industrial Indemnity Exchange (which was one-third owned by Henry J. Kaiser) was the largest insurance company affiliated with the aqueduct project, and underwriter Harold Hatch offered a creative and mutually beneficial solution. In exchange for half of the 25 percent insurance premium that Industrial would have paid out for treatment, Industrial would pay that up front to Garfield and he’d promise to provide the requisite industrial care.

Garfield figured out that he could get the workers to also prepay a small, affordable amount (five cents a day), and he’d extend his services to cover comprehensive medical care.[i] 60 percent of Garfield’s income would eventually come from payroll deduction, 40 percent from workers’ compensation. The plan worked very well, and became one of the cornerstones of the Kaiser Permanente model.

Caring for wartime workers

Ambulances at Kaiser Richmond shipyard first-aid station, circa 1944.

Ambulances at Kaiser Richmond shipyard first-aid station, circa 1944.

This unusual integration of industrial and non-industrial medical care under one roof continued when Garfield directly partnered with Kaiser and operated the hospital at Grand Coulee Dam (1938-1941) and later at the seven West coast shipyards and one steel mill (Fontana) during World War II employing almost 200,000 workers.

Health care posed a significant challenge in operating the yards; because most of the able-bodied healthy men (the typical demographic for this industry) were serving in the military, those available for homefront needed job training and medical care.[ii] The option of affordable comprehensive health care was extremely attractive to the new workforce, and demand outstripped availability. Permanente Health Plan organizers struggled to add enough staff and facilities to handle new members.

Despite the superficial appearance to the end user that it was a single health plan, under the hood it still involved the bureaucracy and bookkeeping of two separate entities. The Health Plan Manual for the staff of Sidney R. Garfield, M.D., (circa 1942) clearly stated:

 Q. If a member is hurt while working on the job is he covered under the Health Plan?

A. No. The Health Plan does not cover Industrial accidents. These are covered under Workman’s Compensation.

Q. What is meant by Workman’s Compensation and how are we connected with it?

A. Under the Workman’s Compensation Act of California, most employers are required to provide medical and hospital care as well as weekly compensation to employees injured while working. The shipyards contracted with private insurance companies to provide and administer these benefits to the employees. We in turn made arrangements with the insurance companies to provide the medical and hospital services for a certain fee.

The combined health plans proved to be a powerful medical and economic engine. In August of 1943, A.B. Ordway, Vice President of the Richmond Shipyards, sent a report to B.K. Ogden, Director of the Division of Insurance, United States Maritime Commission, in Washington, D.C. He observed:

The shipyard management further realized that the type of medical and hospital care necessary to secure and maintain the best morale and productive results for shipbuilding could not be made available from the possible income that could be derived from industrial cases only.

Therefore, early in 1941 a plan was devised for offering to the employees of the above yards a Medical Health Plan at a fixed price per week. The possible income that could be secured through an Industrial medical plan and a medical Health plan was of sufficient size to justify expenditures of large amounts of money for buildings and equipment and to better enable the holder of the medical contracts to secure the large staff of doctors and nurses needed to adequately provide the best medical and surgical attention possible.

…Medical costs on industrial cases are lower than would be possible were it not for the fact that one organization handles industrial and non-industrial cases, and the industrial costs are controlled through one contract method.

Kaiser Richmond shipyard first aid station, circa 1944

Kaiser Richmond shipyard first aid station, circa 1944

In terms of running a huge industrial network, the advantages of a healthy workforce were obvious and quantifiable. Henry J. Kaiser himself noted:

In 1943, the average male industrial worker lost 11.4 days and the average female industrial worker 13.3 days of work due to sickness and injury. By far the greater proportion of this loss – 80 percent in men and 90 percent in women – was believed to be due to common ailments. This means that in the U.S. today there is a loss of more than 600,000 man-days annually. This is 47 times the amount of time lost through strikes and lock-outs of all kinds during 1943.[iii]

Kaiser used the above argument – and his successful experience with running industrial medical care programs – as the basis for a bold proposal for a nationwide pre-paid medical plan as the war waned in 1945. Dr. Paul Cadman, in an addendum to the proposal, laid out the premise:

The Health Insurance Plan follows the general pattern of the Workman’s Compensation Law, a law which has been in effect for over thirty years and has been found to be practical and workable.

Alas, the proposal never went anywhere, but Henry J. Kaiser’s health plan continued to grow bigger and better.


Next: Postwar evolution of Kaiser Permanente’s worker health care

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/QdEFCz


Special thanks to Dr. Doug Benner, Coordinator of Regional Occupational Medicine Services (1993 to 2011) and Connie Chiulli (Director of Operations, Occupational Health Service Line, Regional Occupational Health, TPMG) for help with this article.

[i] A slightly different percentage is described by Rickey Hendricks in A Model for National Health Care: “Since Garfield was losing money yet providing needed services and model facilities, Hatch proposed that Industrial Indemnity prepay Garfield 17.5 percent of premiums, or $1.50 per worker per month, to treat industrial injuries.”

[ii] “…In 1944, with the [shipbuilding] program in full swing, it was rare to find a yard of five thousand employees or more who could boast of more than 5 per cent of workers with previous experience in shipbuilding.” “Health and Safety in Contract Shipyards During the War,” by Philip Drinker, Ch.E., in Occupational Medicine, April, 1947.

[iii] “Proposal for a Nation-Wide Pre-Paid Medical Plan Based on Experience of the Permanente Foundation Hospitals” Henry J. Kaiser, March 3, 1945.

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Jet lag no problem for Rosies and friends

posted on April 13, 2014

Fundraising dinner fetes World War II Kaiser Shipyards workers

Click on any image to see a slideshow.
To close the slideshow and return to the blog, click on “X” in upper left of slideshow page.

 

 

Girls coming of age inspired by Rosies’ ‘We Can Do It’ promise

posted on April 10, 2014

Gala guests to fete traveling Rosies; SF Bay Area girls to benefit

By Ginny McPartland
Heritage writer

Terra and Angelica work on a circuitry exercise in a workshop led by the Girls Scouts. Rosies' Girls photo

Terra and Angelica work on a circuitry exercise in a workshop led by the Girls Scouts. Rosies’ Girls photo

Rosie the Riveters who broke gender barriers to join the World War II production industry 70 years ago leave a legacy that directly influences the career opportunities of today’s young women.

The older (85-plus) generation’s work experience is especially poignant for those who are coming of age in former war town Richmond, California, where many of the youth are disadvantaged and susceptible to questionable life paths.

It’s fitting then that female Kaiser Shipyard workers, six honored in the Obama White House last week, should be feted at the Rosie the Riveter Trust annual fundraising gala, whose main beneficiary is Rosie’s Girls, a career development program whose catchphrase is: Building Strong Girls.

The Rosie the Riveter Trust supports the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in its work to collect and tell the stories of the Home Front and to preserve historical sites in the Bay Area and the nation.

The park is installing permanent educational exhibits at its Visitor’s Education Center in Richmond, which will be unveiled and opened to the public at the end of May.

Restored cannery setting for fundraiser

The fundraising party is set for 6 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the F&P Cannery, 1200 Harbour Bay South, Richmond. The restored cannery is near the Kaiser Shipyard site where workers built 747 cargo ships for the Allied Forces in the 1940s and where the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan was born.

Keynote speaker: Christina Goldfuss, NPS, deputy director, Congressional and External Affairs. National Park Service photo

Keynote speaker: Christina Goldfuss, National Park Service deputy director, Congressional and External Affairs. National Park Service photo

Keynote speaker will be Christina Goldfuss, National Park Service deputy director for Congressional and External Affairs.  Ms. Goldfuss, a former staffer on the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, took on her new role in November of 2013.

Goldfuss has also served as director of the Public Lands Project for the Center for American Progress, and she has experience as a television news reporter in California, Nevada and Virginia.

JAC’s Vocal Trio will entertain the gala revelers with World War II era songs, likely including “Smooth Sailing,” the official launching song of the Kaiser Shipyards.

For dinner tickets, contact the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

Also this weekend at the Rosie park:

The SS Red Oak Victory volunteers are cooking up the first Pancake Breakfast of 2014 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday (April 13) on the ship berthed at 1337 Canal Blvd, Berth 6A, Richmond. For information, call 510-237-2933.

The ship volunteers have been working on the Red Oak all winter and they are excited to show off their progress. The breakfast proceeds ($7 per person) will help continue the ship’s restoration. Tours of the ship are offered for an additional $5.

The volunteers’ work is chronicled in a new photo exhibit at the Richmond Harbormaster’s Building. The show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through April 30.

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Henry Kaiser and merchant sailors union: the curious case of the SS Pho Pho

posted on April 8, 2014

By Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

Kaiser Gypsum's Harry Lundeberg

Kaiser Gypsum’s second S.S. Harry Lundeberg, 1958, with Lundeberg’s wife Ida and children Gunnar, Erik, and Alette. Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources archive.

After World War II ended and Henry J. Kaiser’s shipyards closed, he continued to be active in the shipping trade. One example of his support for sailors was the curious case of the freighter Pho Pho.

In 1950, members of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific picketed the Panamanian-flagged SS Pho Pho, owned by a Greek-American, at the port of Redwood City in Northern California.

The Kaiser Gypsum Company had entered into a six-year shipping contract with the vessel owner because it was retiring its own ship, the SS Permanente Silverbow.

The sailors’ union demanded that “. . . The owners of the Pho Pho negotiate an agreement bringing wages and conditions [of the foreign crew] to the same level as (that of) American vessels.”[i]

Permanente Silverbow-sm

S.S. Permanente Silverbow, one of two steamships that carried bulk cement shipments to ports along the Pacific Coast and in Hawaii.
Image circa 1944.

Instead of digging in his heels and fighting the labor action, Kaiser saw the long-term value of labor peace and made a friendly bet with union president Harry Lundeberg. As the ship was idled for 10 weeks, Kaiser reportedly told Lundeberg “If you win this beef, Harry, I’ll name the ship after you.”

The union campaign was successful, and the vessel became the first to be crewed entirely by union members. Kaiser honored his word, bought the ship, and the SS Pho Pho became the SS Harry Lundeberg on July 20, 1950. She ran aground off the Mexican coast at Cape San Lucas (near San Marcos Island in Baja California, where gypsum was being mined) in 1955, and was replaced with a second ship in 1958.

After the Pho Pho victory, Sailors’ union members also operated two subsequent Kaiser Gypsum ships, the SS Ocean Carrier and the SS Western Ocean.

Short link to this article: http://bit.ly/1mWdF8n


[i] “Forty Pickets Block Greek Ship Unloading,” San Mateo Times, April 10, 1950.

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