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Session:         Page of 592

Q:

That covers Local 342 with more than it's worth, probably. We move on now to the strike of 1984, the summer of 1984.

Foner:

The 1984 strike will probably go down as one of the most disastrous strikes in the history of hospital unions generally, and perhaps it could have a high ranking on the history of any other strike. In passing, let me say that the strike ran forty-seven days. It began in mid-July, and continued until the end of August. It involved some 50,000 hospital workers in more than forty institutions, non-profit institutions, in the metropolitan area and its environs. It was called against the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes. The contract ended without an agreement. I think, in passing, one could say that because of the disastrous nature of this strike we probably will not see another strike, a major strike, in non-profit health care institutions in New York City for many, many years to come.

The strike issues were never clear to the members. To this day, if one -- and I have spoken to many members and asked them what they thought was the issue in the strike, and you get a whole variety of answers. It's not clear because the leadership was not clear on why it was striking. The strike was more of a decision by Turner, made on the theory that a strike was important to her, on the one hand. At the same time, a pettiness of getting angry with management and sort of temper, like a child throwing a temper tantrum will go on strike and will fix you without any clear idea as to what they were striking for or how to accomplish anything in a strike. There was no plan in advance for this strike. The strike took place on a Friday. It was called on a Friday at six o'clock, at a time when one would never dream of calling a strike in a hospital, because the staff is reduced on the weekends and the hospital does not need to function with a large number of people. You're virtually taking people off the job for two days for no reason. The strike was called on a Friday, however, because of an example of the miserable strategy of the strike leadership, of the leadership of the union.

The Friday that the strike took place was the eve of the Democratic Party convention in San Francisco, and the keynoter for Monday's session, the opening session of the democratic convention, was the governor of the State of New York. Decisions in health care are greatly dependent, largely dependent, upon funds from the state -- in the past. That began to change in this strike. But it was always a question, and in this strike too, of how much money the state was going to put into the pot. Since Cuomo had indicated a rather abstemious approach towards funding health care, and he was going to try to keep his budget in balance, the angle was that since Cuomo was going to speak



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