WBAI Workers Picket to Protest Unfair Labor Practices by Pacifica report by Chief Steward R. Paul Martin, WBAI-FM
We had a great informational picket line outside the offices of WBAI at the corner of 8th Ave. & W. 35 St. in Manhattan on Tuesday. The line went from noon to just short of 2 PM.
All but a couple of the Paid Staff who could attend the picket line did so. We passed out about 600 leaflets letting people know what we were picketing the station for. W. 34 St. is a major site of retail stores such as Macy's, Manhattan's big K-Mart, and some cheapo clothing outlets. The Xmas rush of shopping is on and so loads of shoppers were passing by to see this. Also, this is the Garment District of Manhattan and many workers were walking by. A great many people saw this action, including one shocked ex-WBAI programmer who now works at another radio station.
The picket line and demands were covered in the Daily News and on WABC-AM (located within sight of our picket line) as well as on WBAI's own news.
WBAI Management was "unavailable for comment" to all but the WBAI reporter. For the WBAI News they made available Mel Wulf, Management's lawyer, to present their side of it all.
Another interesting development occurred later that night at the Contract negotiations. WBAI Management agreed to relent on their Contract demand that in the future only full-time Paid Staff would be given the health benefits package. They agreed that anyone working 20 hours/week or more would be covered, which is the limit imposed by the insurance carrier. They still, however, refuse to arrange it so that current half time workers are covered.
So the informational picket line, which WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler referred to during the negotiation session as "Your little demonstration," had some immediate effect.
All in all, this was quite a success, and we may well have some more in the future.