An Open Letter to the World
from the workers at WBAI

Dear WBAI Contributor/Supporter/Listener:

Help stop union busting at WBAI

Who we are

We are the Staff of Pacifica radio station WBAI-FM, and we are asking for your help. We are the people whom you hear on the air, the people who interview you and your colleagues on issues important to you, the people who publicize the events of your organizations, the people who bring you the news that never gets covered in the mainstream media, and the people who entertain you with radio you won't hear anywhere else. We produce the programs, we perform the engineering duties that keep the station on the air, we are the clerical workers, the people who clean the floors, handle the switchboard and carry out the many other duties which have kept WBAI on the air for the past 36 years. Some of us are Paid Staff and some of us are Unpaid Staff.

What's happening

We have a Union at WBAI (the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 404) and right now that Union is under attack, not by external forces of the far right, but by WBAI and Pacifica Management.

WBAI Management is demanding that all Unpaid Staff be removed from the Collective Bargaining Unit and be denied Union protection. WBAI Management also wants to designate some Paid Staff workers as vulnerable to being discharged without just cause, even though "emloyment at will" has been denounced on WBAI's air waves for decades. These two actions alone would remove about 90% of the current Collective Bargaining Unit and strip away the rights of these workers.

Additionally, WBAI Management has presented demands for a new Union Contract with a "No Strike Clause" that allows for the discharge of anyone who participates in even an informational picket line at what was formerly described as "Free speech radio, WBAI-New York.1" Union Shop Stewards would be obligated to help Management stop any job actions by workers. Such clauses have been denounced on WBAI 's air in the past.

In January WBAI had a record-breaking "Million Dollar Marathon" which raised $1,024,000 in pledges for the station. In May the fund drive raised over $700,000 in pledges. WBAI has ended its last fiscal year with a six figure surplus, but WBAI Management has demanded a long list of financial give backs from the Paid Staff.

Unionized employees in sister Pacifica station KPFK (Los Angeles) have found that Pacifica has employed the high priced services of a firm that brags about its skill in union busting to deal with the unions out there. Pacifica has spent $30,000 so far on trying to bust the unions in California. We are seeing the same tactics being used by WBAI Management.

WBAI is owned by the Pacifica Foundation, which is based in Berkeley, California. WBAI is required to give the Pacifica Foundation 13% of its gross income every year, in addition to giving the receipts from one full day of every marathon to funding Pacifica's national programming.

We do not think that you, the listener-sponsors of WBAI, ever meant your contributions to the station to be used for the purpose of busting a union or killing community radio.

The motivation for the union busting is thought to be to allow the Paid and Unpaid Staff to be reduced and in some cases replaced so that when the Pacifica Foundation is ready, in about three years, it can take over the air of WBAI and the other stations with Pacifica 's own national programming, leaving little or no air time for local, community input or production.

Pacifica has already mandated WBAI and the other Pacifica stations install a highly sophisticated satellite receiving facility which has the ability to turn WBAI into an "automatic station," which is a radio station that is computer controlled and fed programming via satellite. WBAI could have bought a much simpler, and cheaper, satellite receiver, but it was made to buy the vastly more expensive one, even though Pacifica and WBAI are always financially strapped. The only satellite transmitting station in Pacifica is located at the California headquarters of the Pacifica Foundation. It is projected that Pacifica will be able to take over most of WBAI 's air with its national programming in three years. This transition to nationally controlled programming will be much easier if unions and community people are no longer around to resist the abandonment of Pacifica 's original mission and mandate.

What we are asking you to do

The people at the core of this union busting strategy are the Pacifica National Board, the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation, the WBAI Local Board and WBAI Management.

We need your help to convince them that the listeners in the WBAI signal area do not want to see WBAI bust its union or become just another non-commercial radio station carrying programs off the satellite.

We need you to contact the people below. Call them, write them, fax them, let them know that you do not want the WBAI union busted. Let them know that you want WBAI to continue to be a strong, alternative voice providing the community access that no one else provides.

Pacifica National Board

Jack O 'Dell                 Cecelia McCall            Frank Millspaugh
306 2190 West 7 St.          392  C.P.W. #17K          32 King St.
Vancouver, British Columbia  New York, NY  10025       New York, NY  10014
Canada  V6K4K7               212-866-6567              212-741-0839

June Makela                  Charlotte Holloman         Ambrose Lane
267 E. 7 St.                 1625.5  19 St. NW           7800 Flagstone Ct.
New York, NY  10009          Washington, DC  20009      Ellicot City, MD  21043
212-673-9225                 202-234-0180               410-796-1918

Leonor Lizardo               Janis Hazel                 Dr. Moneim Fadali
1721 Lucretia Ave.           211 Harry S. Truman Dr. #13 2105 Beverly Blvd., suite 225
Los Angeles, CA  90026       Largo, MD  20772            Los Angeles, CA  90057
213-250-8201                 301-499-5372                213-664-3918

Michael Palmer               David Assman                Alexis Gonzales
1001 Bayland Ave.            1067 Filbert St.            260 San Jose Ave.
Houston, TX  77009           San Francisco, CA  90026    San Francisco, CA  94110
713-862-3414                 415-673-3881                415-648-6230

Roger Scarbrough             Roberta Brooks              Pat Scott, Exec. Dir.
906 Stonecrest St.           938 Shattuck Ave.           Pacifica Foundation
Houston, TX  77018           Berkeley, CA  94707         1929 Martin Luther King Way
713-869-8401                 510-527-5740                Berkeley, CA  94704

                                 WBAI Local Board

Dick Demenus                 J. Raynald Louis            Eugene Straus
115 W 23 St.                 48-5037th St.  #4-J         258 Riverside Dr.
New York, NY 10011           LIC, NY 11101               New York, NY 10025
212-924-3064                 718-729-0462                212-866-0911

Nan Rubin                    Frieda Zames                Steve Post
4700 Broadway #2-J           60 First Avenue  #2-F       155 West 71st St.
New York, NY 10040           New York, NY 10009          New York, NY 10023
212-463-7411                 212-673-9225                212-877-4998

Milton Zisman                Bill Henning                Hank Kee
104 Warwick Circle           45-54 39th Pl.              42-24 Colden Street
Springfield, NJ  07081       Sunnyside, NY 11104         Flushing, NY 11355
201-376-5629                 718-392-6094                718-539-3202

Camille Rodriguez            Charles Potter              Michio Kaku
200 Clinton St. 6-D          838 West End Av #6D         % Physics Dept.
Brooklyn, NY 11201           New York, NY 10025          City Univ. of NY
212-772-5695                 212-866-1123                New York, NY 10031

William Banks                Felix Hester                Lynne McVeigh
% WNYE                       45-53 206th St.             99 Bank Street #7-J
112 Tillary Street           Bayside, NY 11361           New York, NY 10014
Brooklyn, NY 11201           718-224-8208                212-929-4783

Karen Frillmann              Valerie Van Isler           Samori Marksman
P.O. Box 4369                General Manager, WBAI       Program Director, WBAI
New York, NY 10185           505 8 Ave.                  505 8 Ave.
212-698-7189                 New York, NY  10018         New York, NY  10018
                             212-279-0707 x 130          212-279-0707 x 139

We thank you for your help in this struggle to keep WBAI, and its Union, alive.

Labor donated.