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Davis at this point was in his mid-eighties. He had retired ten years
earlier in 1982. What had been his role and his function vis-à-vis the
union in that last decade?
In the last decade, Davis' health had deteriorated, and he had
no position in the union, because he was awaiting the merger with
SEIU and he would become the head of the hospital section and
therefore did not run for president of 1199. That's when Doris came in
to fill that vacancy, and he recommended Doris. So at that time he
had no official position.
Was he restless? Was he unhappy with his situation?
Because of his health, he was restless in the sense that he
couldn't do anything to have any impact on it. People would come to
visit him to tell him, but it was difficult. Jesse came regularly. Arlene
Jesse Olson, Arlene Ezratty, other people came regularly, but
could spend just a few minutes because he didn't even have the
strength to listen. He was really in bad shape.
Did you see a lot of him during that decade and talk to him?
Since I lived fairly close, I would make a point to see him every
few days, just to come by. Julia, his wife, was having great difficulty
taking care of him. To get him up the stairs to sleep was a major
undertaking that took a great deal of time, get him down, get him
dressed. That's where it had reached.
At that point I thought that perhaps Martin Cherkasky, whom he
greatly admired from the period of organizing Montefiore in 1958, and
they had similar progressive views on many issues and were --
Cherkasky in 1958 was the [cross-talk]
He was the director of Montefiore Hospital and was
instrumental, after his board voted to give us the right to an election,
was instrumental in carrying forth to negotiate a contract with us.
And that was our first hospital contract?
Our first hospital contract, and one of the major factors -- it's in
the oral history -- was a series of letters that Davis wrote personally to
Martin. That's in the oral history.
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