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social issue since the revolt of the gladiators.” Then when he's writing
about a strike in Pittsburgh, a long essay on George Meany in the New
York Review of Books, he speaks of 1199, “whose strikes have become
known around the country as national wars of liberation.” So you have
a reputation with other people, with Jimmy Wechsler. Jimmy Wechsler
had to be convinced first that we were not communists. He comes out
of that period. He put everything on the line with us and opened
every door he could to us -- every door.
This was an approach that was conscious, discussed, shared
among those of you who were in the top leadership, the idea of
making a union that was a model, that would reach out and be
different and would show an alternative of what unionism could be?
Was it something you and Davis talked about in the car?
Yes, we would talk about it. You never had opposition to
taking these positions. I also was always insistent, with considerable
success, that the union had to be careful on which stands it took, that
it should not go identifying with every single campaign in the world,
that we had to look. I began to be conscious of looking at things. Or
when we took a position, to take it in a broad basis, so that we were
looked on in the Vietnam period as moderators, as trying to heal the
breaches between the groups. In all these problems, that we were the
people who could be counted on. “Let's go to them and let's involve
them. They're good, but they are sensible kind of people because
they're responsible.” I insisted, with Davis to a degree was very, very
successful, that we should not do this or do that, we should be careful
on what we do. Sometimes I was being attacked for it because I'm
pulling the union away from being too far out on the left. You know,
we were the union identified with King, we had to be close to where he
stood on things. We couldn't embarrass them. We were with Mrs.
King. I had to protect Mrs. King. A lot of things I did were based upon
the fact that they could trust me in the sense that I was interested in
our union, but I was interested in them, too. For example, this came
when what's-his-name, Tony Scotto, was going to jail, and everybody
and his brother was testifying in his support.
Just three or four years ago.
Yes. I would often get calls from Mrs. King on many things.
“What do you think on this?” Particularly after Martin was dead. Then
after Stanley died, then it was really difficult when Stanley died, I said
to myself, “My gosh, I don't know what I'm going to do now.” Jimmy
Wechsler and later, these were the people, whenever things came up,
I would always call them and discuss with them, “What do you think?
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