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Now, to go back to sort of general history and things going on, this
is already the period of the Smith Act trials, the Rosenbergs? Just
getting close. The Rosenbergs were executed in '53.
In '53, I'm already in 1199.
Right, but the trial and everything was going on.
Yes. Yes, it's going on during this period. See, this is all going
on in the background of this battle, so you can see it's not exactly the
most conducive period for unions to grow. You had to just tuck your
head in and see if you can live. And people like Livingston and Osman,
they did not see unions as defensive things that you would hang into a
corner and pull in your horns. If there's anything I learned from Arthur
Osman, it is that you must give workers impossible tasks. You must
constantly be organizing, because if theunion does not organize, it is
going to start contemplating itself, and you're going to end up with
people fighting each other inside the union.
Were you very sad to leave 65?
By the time I left, I was sad to leave 65. I had a lot of very,
very good experiences there. But on the other hand, it also was
difficult to work with some of the people like Livingston. By this time,
Osman was--no, Osman was still there. They were difficult. But it was
sad. I didn't know where I was going, that was the big point, but I was
young yet, still young.
So now we get to 1199. Why don't you begin by describing the
character of 1199 and your initial impressions of Leon Davis.
1199 at that time was continuing in the mold of what it had
been formed as. It was formed in '32 as a Union of Retail Drugstore
Workers. It was formed as an industrial union. It was formed by a
small handful of people, including Leon Davis, who met down on
Chamber Street to unite with other groups who had been talking for
years about the need to have a union of drugstore workers,
pharmacists, a guild. They didn't know what they were going to call it.
So they formed a Pharmacists Union of Greater New York. It was an
independent union, and they had no money, they had nothing. They
went around, and they tried to organize drugstores. The important
thing about it is that the drugstore field at that time, the retail
drugstore field, is a field in which the average establishment is one-
and-a-half workers. The pharmacist or the clerk, whoever works,
works directly side by side with the boss, which makes it very difficult
to organize. But in '32, it's the height of the Depression. Most
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