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participate in this. Although we had no money and all we had was a determination to do it, we did it, and that has characterized this union from the beginning.

If you run through our history, you'll find this thread keeps going, that it reaches out to the service employees, it reaches out to other parts of the labor movement. It becomes a question that 1199 is the union that people look to find out whether the issue is right. Is it good to march in this parade on this issue? Is it good to take this position? What does 1199 think?

These are things that I'm very proud of. I'm proud that the union did its part in this tradition, that the union could say, Davis could say to me, on the question of the war in Southeast Asia, “Yes, spend as much time as you can to develop a national labor focus on it.” On the civil rights issues, “Yes, spend as much time as you can to mobilize on this.” On the anti-disarmament issue, “Yes, spend as much time as you can to be involved in getting these things going.”

Q:

It's a union that had a wider vision than the bread-and-butter issues of the immediate day-to-day issues of members, as important as those were.

Foner:

It had a wider interest and also we had leaders who understood that Bread and Roses was good for the union and for the members, that my goal was to have 1199 known as the Bread and Roses union. And I still think that that will happen.

Q:

A lot of that Davis generation legacy came from people who began with a comprehensive world view, a political outlook, which motivated them to make self-sacrifices and which gave a rudder to their union activity. In the years since, that's less common. Is that a factor that bothers you, that causes you concern, or do you think that that's a necessity for the kind of work that is needed to keep the union moving in the direction 1199 has moved thus far?

Foner:

I think all things being equal, it would be better if the new people absorbed or understood. That's, I think, the key importance of the oral history. I think it will have a record that the new people or the present people could read, and hopefully in a book see before them what happened to transform this union from beginning, what is the legacy of this union and learn from it, or to understand that it happened. I think that things are changing today. It's a different generation. It's a different kind of person. We still tend to attract people to us that want to do good things.



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