Dorothea Lange, Workers at the shipyards, n.d.; courtesy the Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California. In some shipyards, 40 percent of the workers were women, creating a paradigm shift.
New Employees Needed
When the shipyards were first established, managers faced the enormous challenge of hiring a massive workforce in a very short time. Competition for workers was fierce, especially because many men in the industrial workforce had either enlisted or been drafted to the armed forces. As a reult, the management at Kaiser looked beyond the Bay Area to recruit African American employees.
Flyers offering good jobs to African Americans who were willing to relocate to California were circulated throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, and other southern states. Kaiser-sponsored trains provided transportation for those willing to make the move to California. Lured by the offer of a 300 percent increase in wages and the promise of a life free of the oppressive Jim Crow segregation and violence in the South, many African Americans freely ventured west to Richmond.