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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.”
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.
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.
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?
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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