tv Industrialist Henry Kaiser CSPAN January 2, 2016 3:43pm-4:01pm EST
be given the opportunity to compete. i believe we should make a special effort. >> sunday night at 9:30, a visit to pershing park in washington, d.c. to hear about proposed designs for a new national world war i memorial for the upcoming 100th anniversary. for the complete holiday schedule, go to www.c-span.org. weekend, american history tv features oakland, california. during world war ii, henry kaiser ran several shipyards and organized health care for his workers and their families. eventually, the health care organization evolved into health care provider kaiser permanente. recentlycity staff visited a site showcasing the city's rich history. learn more about oakland all weekend, here on american
history tv. >> henry kaiser was an american diedtrial, born in 1882, 1967. one of the lesser-known figures of american entrepreneurial history. people know about thomas edison, henry ford. but henry kaiser had a big impact on this country. at one point, he was doing every thing from making cars and steel to running a health plan. what we wanted to focus on, this particular contributions during world war ii on what is called the home front, those that were producing goods and services at home in this country while servicemen were overseas fighting. homefront was really significant. there are several key features of what was provided that resonates today.
things like providing health care for workers, providing housing for workers, having women in the workforce, dealing with sexism. having black people and people of color in the workforce, dealing with racism on the job. these are all things we're still seeing now. echoes of that led to the civil rights movement, led to the second wave of feminism in the 1960's and 1970's, things that got their traction during the homefront in world war ii. if you look at the way henry kaiser and kaiser industries handled it, they set a really good president for this. kaiser started with roadbuilding in the pacific northwest and canada. later on, he started to as he got bigger and bigger projects, building the central highway in cuba in 1927, for example, a big project for him -- later on, he started to get bigger projects.
a big project was being part of the companies doing the hoover dam. he did not know anything about dam building, but he knew something about construction and was providing the concrete for the dam. he also turned out to be a very good negotiator with washington. traveling back and forth to washington, because this is a big federal project. the hoover dam, during the depression, a giant public works project out in the desert. finally, he got a big project, building the grand coulee dam on the columbia river, the largest block of concrete ever poured in the world. he was brought in to complete the second half of the project. the base was already created, and he was there to finish off building the superstructure of the dam. in this remote section of washington state, is always workers. they needed health care.
so, big organizations are required to provide industrial health care. this was mandated ever since 1911 in california. employers have to provide health care for their workers. it makes sense. it is part of the deal. but because it was a remote location, he said, we need to provide besides just industrial health care. they could not just go to a nearby hospital, because there were none. he brought in a guy he heard about, sidney garfield, a physician who graduated from the university of southern california and was a surgeon. he had gone off to start his first project, providing health care for workers on the colorado river aqueduct project in the mojave desert. this was a remote location. he was providing health care, industrial health care. again, on the side he would provide nonindustrial health care. what he realize was that
industrial health care was making him go broke. he wasn't making enough money doing this. then he figured out the concept of prepayment. he worked out a deal with the insurance company doing the industrial health care. he said, if you give me a fixed rate per month, i will provide the health care and we will both come out ahead. he thought about it and said, sense.hat makes prepayment offered him the opportunity to collectively build out his organization, providing affiliates for his hospitals, hiring staff. prepayment is a really big change in how health care was provided. before then, people would pay as they go. so garfield came up with prepayment. also, out in the middle of this industrial site, prevention was another feature he realized was really important for industrial health care, so he came up with two main features that kaiser realize were really good. he brings up sidney garfield.
first he says, i don't know if i want to do this. 1937, and he was maybe thinking about going to do something more lucrative. he realized, this is an important project, so garfield and kaiser paired up at the providedlee dam and not only industrial health care, .ut nonindustrial health care they said, you need to provide health care to families, so they extended to families. how do you offer prepaid health care to families? wendy two of them got -- when the two of them got together, it was making medical history. this was a new model for health care. war,nly, we get into the and suddenly henry kaiser is building ships for the navy. part of winning the war was to show that american democracy was a superior form of government
than fascist europe. there was thewar, commission that roosevelt enforced. they had to be diverse, but at the same time, kaiser was fighting some difficult obstacles. one of the main unions, the boilermakers union, did not want to hire blacks or women. so even though he was. prolabor, labor was sometimes on the wrong side of history on this. women fault and were finally excepted in the boilermakers union, but black workers were never allowed into the boilermakers union. they created a second-tier union, which would let the workers come in and pay their dues. they did not have the same rights as regular union workers. even though the workers were on were stillere challenges to actual diversity and equality. but this was a test.
this is when people were trying things out for the first time. for many people, this was the first situation where blacks and whites and women were all working for the much together. that was huge. so one thing that's important to understand, the role of health care -- again, we talk about this diversity. people, most of whom have never even seen a ship, much less built one, much less handled industrial tools. so you have a workforce that needed to be capped -- kept healthy, which required not only providing health care for people when they get injured and sick, but also training people so they don't get injured or sick. for example, there's a whole program for women coming into the workplace, teaching them nutrition so they could work to a regular shift and not fall apart. how to carry things up a ladder. how to use the tool.
there was a huge amount of industrial training that went to making sure these people would be productive on the job. there was a whole program, offering not only training for people on the worksite, but in general, how do you avoid getting sick? they had inoculations. these were people still coming out of the depression, many of whom had not seen a doctor. the idea of a health care program was a novel concept, so the industrial program, the basis for all the workers, was expanded to offer a program for $.50 a week for nonindustrial health care. many of these people for the first time did not have to worry about getting sick as much. so instead of worrying, i'm really sick, i guess i will see the doctor, they start to get a cold and they go to the doctor. the doctor says, here's what you got, here's what you do. so the concept of having a health care plan, people were
able to get treatment earlier and avoid getting sick. then they were able to go back to work. again, the pragmatic reason for charity, it was not but making sure people can show up at work and we can win the war. but the net result was people started to realize, wow, i can get treated before i really get sick. sometimes it was too late. in the old days, people would wait until their appendix ruptured, then they might get really sick. there have a health plan, was a first aid station, then a field hospital, and the first hospital in oakland, a really state-of-the-art facility. the triage people -- they triage people depending on what they needed. health care, for many people it was the best health care they ever had, but it was also integrated health care. you could not discriminate.
you could not have a black wing and a. white wing. . everyone was treated the same. the practices of the industrial workforce was treated into health care as well. many of these people had never been in a hospital with somebody of another color, so this was helping to change the minds of people during the home front, which again, one of the victories of our war was how we handled the home front, as well as how we won the war. kaiser permanente is one of the organizations, one of the businesses in this country that maintains an archive. so i pulled materials from the archives that focus on the home front and world war ii. for example, here i was talking earlier about the massive migration going on during the war. they were recruiting people to work in the shipyards, and people came in droves. here's an internal report about the shipyards in the workforce,
showing all these people. here's an article from "look" magazine showing the westward migration. this was a huge thing, probably one of the biggest shifts in population in the united states since the inception. everybody at once going to a different place, most of them to the west coast. i have a really great map of the kaiser richmond shipyards. shipyards, the four acres and acres of space devoted to building ships. at one point, they are turning out one ship a day. part of it was that you had the space and facilities, but also there was healthy competition in the shipyards. kaiser was really good at getting people to do their best. they would have these competitions, where they have one shipyard competing against another for who could launch a ship the fastest. another thing i was talking about. , the relationship with
washington, d.c. he was very close to frank and eleanor roosevelt and eleanor -- franklin delano roosevelt and eleanor roosevelt. franklin roosevelt was really important to getting projects with the navy. henry kaiser had a plant for small aircraft carriers that the navy didn't want, but fdr said that sounded like a good idea, and they built them and they were very successful. eleanor roosevelt was trusted with the homefront stuff, entrusted with how women were treated, childcare, health care. here is a photograph of her at a ship launching in the northwest. visiting the hospital. she was really impressed with the health care offered in the hospital for the workers.
so she corresponded with the founding physician, sidney garfield. she was interested in the details of the health plan. he wrote back, saying, here is how it works. here's the benefits. here's what we learned. there was a close relationship between washington and the shipyards, because this was all federal money. they had to make washington happy, but also kaiser wanted to make washington happy. this was a smart move. he genuinely supported a lot of these social benefits. my uncle was a steam fitter in the kaiser shipyards for four years. ir weekly on the publication. this went out to everybody. they picked it up. this represented what they needed to know about the shipyards. there was everything from tips on how to use the tools that are -- better, safety tips, how to not get hurt
on the job,. but they were also talking about the culture. here's women in the workforce, how we deal with women in the workforce. to do that, they had to have people on the staff who could tell those stories. so you start to get women editors, women writers. for a while, there was a woman who was relatively well-known in the area, a graphic artist and painter, emmylou packer. she did incredible illustrations in the shipyard for the publication, talking about the home front. here's a woman, she has a hard hat on and she is making dinner. these women had multiple shifts, you know. blacks and whites working together. for many people, this was a brand-new thing. she did these illustrations to help convey these stories. women in the workforce, they are here to stay.
they are contributing, and stop being sexist to these women. they are your sisters, your mother's, your wives. people are all fighting the war. changed duringsm the war as well. all of a sudden, you couldn't just go back to being the standard old white guys telling stories. before the war was over, henry model was proposing the they developed in the shipyard of industrial and nonindustrial health care as a national model. this was something that was financially very effective. it did not require government intervention. it was a really good model. and this got picked up later on. but it lost a lot of traction once fdr died. here we are, years later with the formal care act.
once again, the kaiser medical active and efficient model was brought forward as a good way of looking at it. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to oakland, california. learn more about oakland and other stops on the tour at www.c-span.org. you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> next, a book party at the capital hill club for bob: cello -- colacello.