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Session:         Page of 592

knowing him. Jerry Brown spoke about Davis as a teacher from whom he learned everything, and there was a great deal of that. Elliott was dead by that time. So in one sense I was -- we did a memorial meeting for Elliott in the union's auditorium --

Q:

Back in 1973.

Foner:

-- for which I wrote a script, and Ossie and Ruby and Johnny Randolph performed, and I think even the press was there, etc. There was big obituary on Davis after this event, a big feature.

Q:

In the New York Times?

Foner:

In the New York Times. They were covering the event with a picture of the event and of the performance, and those things made me feel better.

Q:

Let's move on now to Dennis Rivera, who was elected president of 1199 in 1989, but whom you had known for, I imagine, a decade prior to that or more, when he was an 1199 organizer and then from '86 to '89, I guess he was a vice president. Tell me something about your impressions of Dennis initially and then his role and expanding reputation after 1989.

Foner:

Before I do that, I'd like to say something about Davis, looking back at him. Davis was a master strategist, a man who had very little education, but came to understand and be familiar with the most intricate doings about drugstore workers. He would sit in his office sometimes for hours, and you would see him just staring ahead and think that maybe he's napping. What it is, he was thinking three years ahead what was going to happen, and things moved because of this.

He was the person who saw the advantage and the need for a prepaid prescription drug plan. He was the person who saw that that would be good for our members who are pharmacists and good for the public. He convinced the Carpenters Union to set up a prepaid plan, and we gave them a person to administer it. That became the basis for prepaid plans.

He's the person who thought about our benefit and pension plans, to building them, to increasing their scope, and training and upgrading programs. These were ideas he was thinking about years ago. He worried that the administrators of those plans, who were from the union, would be dealing with employers, management, and might become accustomed or jealous of the fact that the people they were working with were making huge salaries and that it might have a



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