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Session:         Page of 592

Foner:

The editor of 1199 News. And today Esther told me that Bank Street College is having an exhibition in their main auditorium as you come into the building on “Why Unions Matter,” an exhibition we did by students about unions, and they are preparing a study guide that will be used for Bank Street teachers and students. Now, this is all in one week.

Q:

While we're talking, more has happened.

Foner:

Right. Now, there's more I could tell you about people who are the stars of Academy Award films who we're getting to know, who live in New York, and who are very socially minded, and we believe they will agree to participate in the project in some shape or form.

Q:

There's only a little bit left on this tape. Let me just finish up with that period of 1986 to '89.

Foner:

Go ahead.

Q:

You started in that discussion by saying you were working on the merger. The national union, from which 1199 had withdrawn at that period, was discussing, debating internally whether to merge with SEIU or AFSCME after the projected merger with SEIU had fallen through in the early eighties. This led to another bitter schism in which, voting by districts, two-thirds of the national union membership in 1989 went to SEIU and one third, a portion of the --

Foner:

Went to AFSCME.

Q:

Henry Nicholas, the president, went to AFSCME. What was your role in that whole experience?

Foner:

I'm trying to think of the role I played other than knowing about it and talking to people about it. I remember that I met Andy Stern for the first time during that period and drove up with him and Bob Muehlenkamp to Connecticut for the opening by Jerry Brown of the Leon Davis Building. Jerry Brown had been an 1199 organizer and then had become the head of the New England District of the national union, and Jerry knew and was close to John Sweeney, family friends. So Davis came up and was -- no, Davis was dead, but they opened their headquarters with a big event on Davis.

Q:

And they named the headquarters --

Foner:

They named the building the Leon J. Davis Headquarters of District 1199.



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