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Moe FonerMoe Foner
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discussing your meetings with workers and your experience at seeing their conditions. That was very shocking to you.


We originally had the feeling that perhaps because of Montefiore and the fact that the issues of whether hospital workers should have a union had been pretty much argued out in the media with a major hospital, and a decision has been made to agree to an election. We thought that this would simplify the problem and that the other hospitals would follow suit This was never to take place. The Greater New York Hospital Association was formed. It had been in existence, but it became a functioning vehicle as a spearhead for the campaign by the managements and to focus attention and centralize their efforts against the union. The major hospitals, there were many which were not even touched by the organizing campaign. Outfits like Presbyterian, New York, and the Catholic hospitals, in particular, were urging the hospitals that were under fire -- that is, the seven where we had reached majorities -- to resist, not to give in, because, otherwise, the industry would fall to the union. And that's precisely what happened. We first took the tact of sending letters to the managements of these seven hospitals where we had reached a majority first; it was just happenstance that we had majorities there. We sent letters asking for meetings. The letters were either ignored, or we got mumbo-jumbo kind of answers to the effect that the agenda was so long that it didn't come up, “It'll come up at the next meeting.” These were monthly meetings. And it became quite clear that they were determined to resist the union without saying so. We then discussed with the workers the need for other action. There were demonstrations and then the need for a strike.

As I recall, we had meetings with the workers, with the leaders, the workers first, and then membership meetings individually and together, discussing the likelihood that a strike would have to take place. We made clear to the workers that if a strike were to take place, that we had no money for strike benefits, that we could guarantee them nothing in terms of financial reward, except that whatever difficulties that they would face, we would face with them. We said that there was a very good likelihood that there would be injunctions and there would be jail sentences, and if that took place, we would go to jail, too. Nobody was really clear whether that was going to happen, but that's the approach we took. Originally we set a date, we gave sort of a two-week notice to the hospitals in order to help us drum up the thing, and this was two weeks before May 8th. I think it must have been around April 23, something like that. Through Van Arsdale, we were trying to get Mayor Wagner involved in it, to try to put pressure on the hospitals, because we would like to avoid a

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