The People of 3M
In July 1941, 3M had 3,133 employees spread among 4 plants and 13 branches and warehouses. There were 1,639 employees in the Saint Paul factory, 372 in the Saint Paul office, and 143 in the Saint Paul research labs. At the end of the war in August 1945, 3M had 7,046 employees.
As the war progressed, over 2,000 3M employees, both men and women, joined the Armed Forces.
To meet the needs of wartime production, 3M greatly increased its workforce. Of necessity, it recruited women and older men. Many of these workers had husbands, brothers, and sons in the Armed Forces. They went to work to replace those who were in the military. Women became laboratory assistants for the first time in 1942.
The Saint Paul factory went to three 8-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Wages and working conditions were controlled by federal wartime regulations. Labor unions wanted to organize the workers. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.) was officially recognized in 1944.
The company encouraged employees to buy War Bonds. By 1944, 90 percent participated with 10 percent of their wages.
Jeanie Steele went to work in the tape packing department after her son enlisted in the Navy. She was an eager participant in the War Bond purchase program.