Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Moe FonerMoe Foner
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 592


The president of the 1199 New England.


Right. Right. And who was very close to Davis personally.


And started as an organizer at Montefiore.


Right. I invited Ossie and Ruby, and Davis' daughter Leianne spoke for the family. I chaired the meeting, and I had asked every speaker to speak five minutes. The entertainment included Ossie and Ruby, Odetta, Pete Seeger, a special program that they worked out for the event.


How was the attendance?


The attendance, the place was packed. Many of the hospitals agreed to permit a certain number of delegates to be off for it who wanted to come. So not only was it packed with workers, there were people from management there and people from other unions, here in New York and from all over the former 1199s around the country. John Sweeney was there. Harry van Arsdale was there. Everybody was there. The audience was tremendously enthusiastic, and it was a fitting tribute.

There was one problem. A union activist, who had been a rabbi, had known Davis for a long time, asked to do a prayer, and I said okay, and I said, “Just do the prayer and leave,” and he did the prayer and then started to speak. He spoke for ten minutes, but the speech was a direct attack at the new union leadership for departing from the traditions of Davis, emphasizing political action, PR, and not being close enough to the workers, etc., and I kept trying to interrupt him but without success, and I was becoming very agitated.

At one point Cherkasky came to me and patted me and said, “Moe, don't get so upset.” But I was boiling about it.

Anyway, the event went very, very well. We took photographs with everybody and then went to the rear, where people gathered. And then we had a short little party at the union headquarters, and some of the people who came back there, I came back with my wife, Ossie came back, many of the people. Dennis was there.

I was, as I said, very agitated to the point I said to Anne [Foner], “I think I want to leave.” So I got up to leave, went up the steps of 310, and as I got to the top of the steps, I felt weak and passed out. The next thing I knew, an ambulance had come and picked me up to take me to St. Claire's. Dennis called the president of the hospital to tell him who I was and the union's interest.

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help