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Session #18
Interviewee: Moe Foner
Interviewer: Robert Master
Place: New York, New York
Date: June 12, 1986


This is Moe Foner's oral history, interview number eighteen, and today is June 12, 1986.

We're going to move into the concluding years of the history by starting with some background on the decision of the 1199 leadership to seek a merger with another, larger entity. So Moe, could you describe the origins of the idea to merge?


The idea of a merger -- rather, let me call it the idea of one big hospital union -- was something that Davis had in mind from rather an early period. The concept was carried out inside 1199 in terms of organizing professional, technical -- organizing a guild -- and then organizing RNs. Internally, the advantages were obvious. The power of the union was limited in the hospital if it was confined to service workers -- but we've covered that in the past. At the same time, in the period following the enactment of legislation in 1963 in New York State we began to see the problems that arise when you are involved in fighting other unions. In the 1963 period it was a battle between our union and Local 144 in state labor board election campaigns. In some cases nobody won. In all cases, it was very costly. This was resolved after about two years, with a -- what we call a -- Column A and a Column B list of hospitals which were turned over to 144 and hospitals that were in the 1199 column. Very few were in the 144 column except for proprietary hospitals. But that already indicated the problems of disunity in the industry.

Davis had the idea I'd say in the mid 1960s and the late 1960s, early 1970s, about the need for one big union in the health care field, and was exploring the idea with George Hardy, who was then the president of the Service Employees. This was during the getting-to- know-Hardy period, meetings out on the coast with Hardy, and Elliot Godoff was present. Just the major purpose at those meetings was to get to know each other, and to explore the idea of “Wouldn't it be great if there were one hospital workers union”. Everybody agreed it would be great. Within time, Hardy came around to Davis' thinking that it would be a very very practical kind of thing, and Hardy was invited to our convention of the national union in 1979. His speech was on the need for one big union. I remember that the discussion, almost an entire

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