Previous | Next
542543544545546547548549550551552553554555556557558559560561562563564565566567568 of 592
Let's go back to -- you talked today about Leon Davis and about
Dennis Rivera. Can you compare the two of them and sort of
summarize their strengths and weaknesses and the differences?
They're certainly two very different personalities.
Well, the personalities are very different. Dennis is a very
outgoing person who attracts people all over the place. Davis was
more quiet, ingrown, and Davis was more philosophical in his
understanding of what might happen. Dennis very often is reacting to
what's happening and do it, or he'll think that the contract's going to
expire, know that's the problem, but it's a difference between a longer
approach and a shorter approach.
Dennis was much more talented in reaching political people. Davis
would avoid that. It was not his thing. Davis, on the one hand,
because of his accent, would say to me at a time when we were
becoming known -- remember, nobody knew us at the beginning --
becoming known because of the strike, and people wanted to talk to
him, and he would say, “Moe, you speak to the press.” He feared TV or
That's interesting. We're talking about two people who are
immigrants with accents, but they handle it in very different ways.
Dennis, on the other hand, would be terrific in front of a mike
in an interview. His mind was very quick, and very often he would go
off on a tangent, and people would call me and say, “Explain this.”
But, you know, people like Steve [Steven] Greenhouse at the Times --
They're labor reporters.
They're labor reporters. They go to him all the time because it's
important. It's one of the most important unions in the city and the
state. So anything that's happening, they want to know what does
1199 think. Other unions, some other unions are very jealous of 1199,
which is a problem, and they were jealous under Davis, too, but on the
other hand, Davis didn't have much confidence in other unions and
very often -- Dennis plays more -- he works harder to unite other
unions who believe in his ideas, who follow his position. Although with
the Central Labor Council, he is very, very effective, and then with the
state, he's very close.
Particularly now, with SEIU, we are a powerful force not only in New
York and upstate, we are a powerful force nationally and
internationally. Remember that most of the districts in health care in
SEIU are headed by people who learned under Davis and who come
© 2006 Columbia University
Libraries | Oral History
Research Office | Rights and
Permissions | Help