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Session:         Page of 592

I said, “Look, Dennis, you've been to the Cardinal on different things. Call him. Ask to meet with him, that you want to tell him about home- care workers,” and he did. And the Cardinal reacted positively, so positively that he arranged for a meeting in the cathedral with Dennis, and I suggested he have Jesse Jackson come with him.

Q:

This is Cardinal O'Connor.

Foner:

Cardinal O'Connor. They met, and after the meeting, they permitted us to announce that there would be a press conference outside the cathedral on the steps. So all of the media is there. The Cardinal comes out flanked by Dennis and Jesse, and the Cardinal is interviewed about home-care workers.

Q:

Now, what led you to make that suggestion? Why did you think the Cardinal would be important, and why did you think he would agree to do it?

Foner:

Well, Dennis had been telling me that the Cardinal grew up in a union household, that his father was a gold leaf letterer, that while they had differing views on very many other things, on the issue of labor he was very good, and Dennis got to meet him and know him about that. He liked Dennis. So when I raised this, Dennis felt it was a natural.

So you had this unusual press conference on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Cardinal flanked by Dennis and Jesse Jackson, and, you know, cameras and photographers are just all over the place. Now, a thing like that happens, everybody has to pay attention to that. You know, the Cardinal's views reach certain audiences that we normally cannot. You talk about the governor's office, the mayor's office, many Catholic dignitaries, all of that, particularly when you're dealing with an issue like home care, which is good versus evil.

Q:

And what was the issue at this point in 1987? Was this negotiations for a first contact for many thousands of home -- about 15,000 home- care workers [cross talk]

Foner:

Yes, working together with DC 17. They had organized some, we were organizing some. We wanted an overall contract.

Q:

And what did Jesse Jackson and Cardinal O'Connor say [cross talk].

Foner:

They talked about the shame of home-care workers. He didn't say, “I want everybody to organize and sign a contract with 1199,” although in 1989 we got him to hold a press conference in the middle of that big strike on the question of why St. Claire's Hospital was



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