California Local Helps Finance
Rosie the Riveters’ Trip to D.C.
March 20, 2014
|During World War II, more than six million women joined the workforce, many as welders in shipyards.
As an aging population of World War II veterans declines, so do the battalions of women who were stationed in the nation’s industrial workplaces during the war. Some worked in IBEW-organized facilities, including three shipyards in Portland, Ore. that employed 21,000 members, one-third of them women and minorities. Others worked in California shipyards, some represented by Martinez,Calif,, Local 302
These women, many of whom balanced single motherhood and work as their husbands went to war, were celebrated in a popular war-era song, “Rosie the Riveter.” Later, a poster, “We Can Do It,” produced to build support for the war effort, displayed a woman in a blue denim shirt flexing her bicep. She was forever named Rosie, the image becoming an American icon.
Last October, Vice President Joe Biden called the sister of Marian Sousa, 87, a California Rosie, and invited her and four of her co-workers to visit him in Washington. Those invited include Phyllis Gould, 92, of Fairfax Calif, one of the first women welders stationed at a Kaiser shipyard in 1942.
|Airplane worker in California
Money is tight for many aging workers, the Riveters included. So Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of the Rosie the Riveter Trust in Richmond, which helps finance the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historic Park began an effort to raise money to pay for the Rosies’ trip. Many surviving Rosies still work every week welcoming guests to the national park.
One hundred donors, including labor organizations and employers responded to Mather-Thrift’s appeal.
Contributing to the $30,000 collected, which included free plane tickets, was $2,000 from the Electrical Industry Advancement Program of Local 302.
“We have retired Rosies in our union, who performed electrical and welding jobs on the warships built in Richmond,” Local 302 Business Manager Ron Bennett, says.
“These ladies were the glue that held the United States together during the war. We are proud of these women who stepped up for our country in a time of need.”