Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Moe FonerMoe Foner
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 592

to Atlanta to come back with her. After awhile it was, “I'll meet you at the airport.” Mrs. King is a very special kind of person -- you have to treat her like royalty, in a sense. Although, it depends. If you know her well it can work, but she's used to being treated like a special person. But she would agree to do it. I think she understood when I would say that this is as important for you as it is for us, because it gives the image in the media of you being close to workers, not being -- you know -- up on top. Here you're standing right next to them.

I remember in Indiana, in Gary, we had a very tough campaign at a Catholic hospital. It was right before Thanksgiving, and the boss to counter us was giving away free turkeys. See the workers would go get the turkey and come back. [laughs] She would say, “Okay, get your turkey now.” We won. Usually she tipped the balance in a tight case, or made it bigger in a case where you were winning. She would do that. We also did one of her speeches on a forty-five rpm record and gave it out with her picture.

The strategy that Elliott developed -- High Noon, which was really a brilliant strategy that he worked out. It was brilliant from many points of view. When you reached a point -- and you were trying to get a fast election -- and you reached a point when you had to know what your strength was at “X” percent. The strategy would be a high noon. We would ask all the workers at noon -- it was their lunch hour, for the most part -- to march to the director's office all together, and to make your demand for an election, and have a spokesperson with them from inside, who would be strong enough. It would really have a terrific impact, because you were asking workers to do something inside the hospital -- they didn't have to go outside. Secondly, you were asking them to do it on an issue that you all ready had momentum, you could carry, and you begin to -- like Pied Pipers -- carry people along. That strategy was brilliant.


Was it developed in this period?


That period. It was after Charleston. Yes, I'm pretty sure, because I remember it in Pennsylvania, in New Jersey, and all.

Elliott was a master at strategy. Elliott knew hospital workers from the word go. He had been in hospitals all his life. He knew how they thought, what made them tick, and he was a fantastic listener. He was a brilliant organizer -- brilliant organizer. He trained Nicholas. He trained Nicholas as an organizer. A lot of people knew what they learned from Elliott. We also were growing internally. We were growing in the Guild division -- Jesse Olson. Long Island -- Eddie Kay was building and organizing in Long Island. Eddie Kay formerly worked in a

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help