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Session:         Page of 592

by the blacks. He was regarded as theirs. Remember, we had in the union a lot of people who were older blacks. The civil rights movement was perfect for them and our link with it was just a natural. The young people were coming out at a different point. You know who was a steward in our union, up in the Bronx? Roy Innis. At the beginning he was active in our union. He was a phony then.

Q:

He's a crazy man now.

Foner:

Yes.

Q:

Before we get to Charleston, one last question. Is there anything worth recalling about the contract struggles of this period, the late Sixties?

Foner:

Yes.

Q:

Particularly important advances, particularly important strikes? Anything in particular about your own role?

Foner:

The contracts were getting better. By '66, we had had a $74 minimum. We had introduced the benefit fund, pension fund, and these things made things a lot better. Big changes had taken place. There were hassles at contract time, and I was always able to churn up the business about these poor people who are down at the bottom of the economic ladder, and the people who are subsidizing the hospitals, and the hospitals, why don't they open their books and show us what they're doing--that kind of thing. That would get sympathy. We always were able to get sympathy for ourselves.

Then in '68--I don't know if I handled that before.

Q:

The $100 minimum? I think we did discuss that.

Foner:

Well, that was the key thing. That was what turned it around. That was a major thing. Once you got the $100 minimum, you had tremendous support from the workers, because it was something they did not expect. Did not expect. I didn't expect it. Only one expected it was Davis, because he insisted on it.

Q:

So at that time the union continued to grow and service.

Foner:

The union was growing and servicing, and organizing, and beginning to organize outside, too. Nicholas and Elliot are testing the waters around. They've been out in different places and trying.

Q:

Philadelphia is or is not yet organized?



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