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Session:         Page of 592

Session #7
Interviewee: Moe Foner
Interviewer: Robert Master
Place: New York, New York
Date: June 4, 1985


We left off in 1962, at the time of the battle over the hospital legislation and the Beth El strike.


Right. Just a little bit backup now. Reading the Murray Kempton column, which is dated March 30, 1962, reminds me that, when he wrote the column, the legislative session for '62 had ended, and we had failed to get the bill passed. We knew we couldn't get that bill passed without Rockefeller's support. We also had inserted into the bill at that time the section that would include compulsory arbitration. That was done with the approval of the union and it was done in consultation with the speaker of the assembly, Joe Carlino, who made it clear to us that unless we had that, we had no chance of getting a bill passed. Even the Democrats wouldn't go for a bill if it didn't have compulsory arbitration in hospitals. So we said, “Okay, we'll go for it.”

We did get the assembly to adopt the bill, but we were trying to corner everybody who had made pledges on it, and we had a battle with the state AFL-CIO, which took the position that it was opposed to compulsory arbitration. This was Ray Corbett. Even though Harry Van Arsdale in New York City officially came out and supported the bill, the AFL-CIO said, “No way. We could never support a bill for compulsory arbitration.” Corbett went and got George Meany's support. That's how bitter he was on this thing, that it was very, very rare for George Meany to intervene in a New York State legislative issue. He sent a message to all the members of the legislature, trying particularly to affect the Democratic legislators, knowing that they could not support anything if the AFL-CIO was against it, no matter what their pledge was to us. That, plus the fact that there was opposition from the church and that we didn't have Rockefeller meant that the bill was dead.

So when the session ended at the end of March, we were looking to Beth El as the possibility to be the focal point to win legislation, and at the same time to keep Beth El out of the Statement of Policy; that is, agreeing to a retroactive, saying, “I'm in now and you can't strike me.” That strike was postponed and that strike then must have begun in May or June, so that when it ended July 18th, in mid-July, because I see the editorials that I refer to were printed at that time.

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