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him in advance and I said we wanted to spend time with him. We
spent better than a day wandering through his headquarters, and they
were explaining how they were set up and their whole operation. We
were very impressed with it. That was the beginning, because we met
Hardy there too, of our relations with him.
Was the SEIU based on the west coast at that time?
Well, the SEIU in hospitals had this big hospital union on the
west coast, they had a smaller union in Minneapolis, and they had
pockets of hospital workers in different parts of the country.
Did you make any particular contribution to the idea of the merger?
No, not really -- with some exceptions. See first of all this
merger, the actual merger arrangements, negotiations, took place at a
time when Bread and Roses was at a very great height. I was
overwhelmed with Bread and Roses and other things, so that I was not
involved in the direct negotiations. I was aware of them, I attended
certain meetings, but I was not actively involved in it. When there was
an agreement -- it was Davis' responsibility to bring Al Heaps into the
thing. Davis raised it with Al Heaps and Al Heaps said very clearly,
“You have no problem with me. If you can work out your problems
with service employees in the kind of situation that you want, similar
to what we have with the RW, then you have no problem with me
because I'm ready for a merger.” So we proceeded on that base to line
up service, because Al Heaps said he's okay.
What had been your relationship with Heaps until that point? Did he
have a kind of laissez-faire approach to 1199?
Yes. It was a laissez-faire approach. We had special
arrangements. Instead of giving full per capita, we held back part of
the per capita to use for organizing and administration. There was an
agreement that as we organized around the country they would form
1199P, 1199C, etcetera, and they would be part of the national union.
In other words, we had an agreement that set up a union inside a
union. Now this was to our advantage and to his advantage. To our
advantage because it gave the image around the country that it was a
national union of hospital and health care employees, that you weren't
joining the retail/wholesale department store union. Secondly, we
administered it and we could run it. The advantages to Heaps were
great. We were growing very very rapidly. He was getting a lot of per
capita -- not full, but a lot!
More than he deserved!
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