From the March 3, 1997 edition of Current Magazine
from the "Quick Takes" column
NLRB: PACIFICA VOLUNTEERS CAN BE UNION MEMBERS
A regional arm of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that unpaid staff members of Pacifica Station WBAI, New York, should remain members of the collective bargaining unit. Pacifica says it is appealing the ruling.
The union and its supporters are celebrating the decision; "The board upheld the union's arguments on every point," said union rep Bruce Klipple. But Pacifica Executive Director Pat Scott, in a release, said," The decision is misguided. It is in direct opposition to union bargaining principles, and we are confident that it will be set aside."
Pacifica sought a ruling that WBAI's approximately 200 volunteer staff members be excluded from the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) shop. If it had won, the WBAI unit would have shrunk to about 25 members.
Union supporters and Pacifica foes [sic] argut that the left-leaning network [sic] is trying to bust the WBAI union. But Pacifica said in the release that it supports workers' rights. "Pacifica's case is based on its belief that 190 people who do not make a living at WBAI should not be bargaining for the wages and working conditions of the approximately 30 people who do."
Pacifica had also sought to have WBAI's business manager classified as management, but the NLRB ruled the position should remain a union post.
NLRB Regional Director Daniel Silverman, who handed down the decision, said that compensation does not appear to be an indicator of employee status at WBAI. He also said that the station's paid and unpaid staff share a strong "community of interest."
The UE unit was bargaining a new contract with WBAI when the station [sic] sought "clarification" of the unit. UE says the station has offered a regressive contract and is demanding a "no strike" clause that would prohibit informational picket lines in front of the station. Pacifica says it has offered increased wages and improved benefits to the paid employees.
WBAI's shop steward, R. Paul Martin, says the decision may have implications outside of radio, for people who are working as a condition of receiving welfare checks. Unions are trying to organize these "unpaid" employees, he said.
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