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successful. He personally was involved in the organizing of many of
the major hospitals in the New York area, after 1959.
At Roosevelt one of the things I remember about him is that he was on
the witness stand for about four days. They were going over the cards,
claiming that these were cards that were not signed legally. They put
one or two people on the stand who said: “I didn't sign the card.”
Nicholas on the stand quoted the date and time for every card that
was signed. And he wasn't making it up! He has a good memory. What
he can't remember he makes up. [laughs] But that caused another
election, and we won that election.
When the decision was made to go outside -- around 1968, before
Charleston -- Elliott decided that he wanted Nicholas to be with him.
Doris was never an organizer of workers not in the union, and she
wasn't a good administrator. She was close to the workers, she was
like the workers, she respected them. She spoke like them, they
understood her, etcetera, etcetera. So she was, in that way, effective.
I don't want to go in to their various attributes and pros and cons at
this time, because it gets colored by many other things now.
Charleston, Nicholas was there from the very very beginning. From the
word “go” he was there.
One of the things I wanted you to talk about were some of the
issues raised by that letter that Mark Naison wrote to Leon Fink, in
which he describes the complications and challenges of a generation of
leadership formed by the communist experience, essentially. Whether
or not they're still attached organizationally is immaterial. Trying to
figure out ways of training a subsequent generation that is not going
to be inspired by that vision. So the issue becomes, what do you offer
and/or what are they looking for? I guess the bottom line is, is
something somehow missing -- for them?
Obviously there's something missing. First of all, they don't
have the same background. Therefore we -- and I use this loosely --
saw what we were doing in the context of a broad social struggle. To
improve the lot of working people, and to strengthen labor unions so
that labor unions and workers could play an effective role in this
society through the kind of union that we would like to build. We used
to think that we were building a union that was very special and very
different, and that the degree we could get large numbers of people to
follow us, meant you were effective. We saw it in the concept of the
struggle against fascism, the struggle for peace -- everything, it all
fitted in. The union should play a role in these things. The Nicholas-
Turner generation doesn't have that background -- they don't have
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