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Session:         Page of 592

listening and watching things about the union, which means that these programs can be successful. Our Benefit pension fund has programs that reach out to members that are successful. The training fund has them. The child care fund has them. And we try every way to try to do that.

Dennis has awesome responsibilities these days, not merely with our union and the AFL-CIO and SEIU, but also with political campaigns all over the country. Now, our role in politics has been very, very greatly increased with staff and members' involvement. These are positive signs of change.

You know, we have financial problems in the sense that so much money is devoted to politics that we have problems in financing staff and adding staff. We had a crisis for several years of no hiring. These things are important.

Q:

Let's go back to 1986. Save Our Union has won the union election. Georgianna Johnson has replaced Doris Turner as president. It's not until 1989 that Dennis Rivera is elected president. Now, those were three difficult transition years. What was your role during that period? What do you remember about the big issues during that period?

Foner:

During that period, first I had retired, so to speak, and I was working primarily on the merger.

Q:

Proposed merger [cross talk]

Foner:

Proposed merger with SEIU.

Q:

The national --

Foner:

National SEIU. That was the major thing I worked with. But I was aware of all the other things. [Tape interruption.]

Q:

So you were talking about the period between 1986 and '89 in 1199 and the national union.

Foner:

Yes. And when Doris was still in charge, Unity in Progress decides to try to get her out in an election, which was very difficult to get, particularly since the rank and file opposition, the rank and file -- I mean the staff she had fired, like Dennis was working in a hospital, and every time he hit fifty-nine days, Doris would call the employer and say, “Fire him.”

Q:

Fifty-nine days meaning the end of the probation.



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