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Session:         Page of 592

Then internally, Turner was strengthening her hold on the union and changing the union. It became very difficult to do anything in that union.

Q:

When you say “in that union,” you mean within the New York district.

Foner:

Within the New York district. I was still the executive secretary of the New York district.

Q:

And Davis was --

Foner:

Davis had already dropped out. He had retired, he wasn't running. Doris ran for election as his successor, and was the president with his blessing.

Q:

When, precisely, did she become president?

Foner:

In 1982, April 1982. Davis dropped out right before the election, in January said he was going to retire and not run again.

Q:

He didn't make any effort to change his plans, given the role that she was playing?

Foner:

He was left high and dry in the sense that he had relinquished his role as the president of the RW, stepped down as president of 1199, and all this was because he was going to be the first head of the hospital division of the newly merged union. Then he would be replaced by Nicholas, because he knew he couldn't continue for very long. But then he was left without anything!

Now, they made attempts, belatedly. Doris used this. Meetings were held privately to begin to re-discuss the question of Doris Turner as president, because it became quite clear, way back already it was becoming clear. Davis was arranging for weekly meetings with her which she wouldn't attend and didn't appear, and it became clear to Davis that he had made a terrible mistake. Then with the merger thing, it complicated it further. But you have to beat somebody with somebody, and there was nobody to really do that. So, Doris ran and Doris won, and Doris was all the time putting in place her people. We didn't really realize it. Filling in. Organizers who were fired in the guild for ineptness ended up on her staff. She was building a machine. Her theoretical leader was David White, who did more to help elect her than anybody else, because he had this image of talking from the old times and goodness and stuff.



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