In a shocking betrayal of its long time on-air stance the Management of WBAI-New York (99.5 FM) has made demands of the WBAI Union which are designed to destroy the Union by removing about 90% of the Collective Bargaining Unit, and WBAI Management is also demanding financial give backs.
In the current round of Contract negotiations WBAI Management has demanded that the Unpaid Staff of WBAI, who have been a part of the Union since its inception in 1987, be removed from the Collective Bargaining Unit and denied any protection by the Union.
Unpaid Staff have always been the largest category of workers at WBAI, and while performing work in every area of the station, they represent the majority of on-air voices and producers.
Management's proposals also include plans to designate some Paid Staff workers as vulnerable to being discharged without just cause, even though employment at will has been denounced on WBAI's air waves for decades.
Also included are Management's demands for a "No Strike Clause" which would prohibit even informational picket lines at what was formerly described as "Free Speech Radio," WBAI-New York. Union Shop Stewards would be obligated to help Management stop any job actions by workers, and violators would be subject to discharge. Such clauses have been denounced on WBAI's air in the past.
At a meeting on April 30, WBAI Management admitted that the demands for removal of Unpaid Staff from the Collective Bargaining Unit, and other provisions, were made under orders from Pat Scott, Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation, a California based non-profit organization which owns the license to WBAI.
The Pacifica Foundation has been firing workers, both paid and unpaid, at KPFK (Los Angeles, CA) and KPFA (Berkeley, CA) who are involved in their Unions.
The Paid and Unpaid Staff at WBAI are united on resisting this obvious attempt to bust the Union at WBAI.
WBAI is part of amalgamated Local 404 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (U.E.). Pacifica and WBAI Management are represented by Ms. Valerie Van Isler, General Manager of WBAI, and Management s lawyer, Mr. Melvin Wulf, of the law firm Beldock, Levine & Hoffman.
Rewriting of the grievance procedure by Management s lawyer to put unfair time limits on grievance filings. WBAI Management is notorious for illegally delaying the current grievance procedure, and these provisions would allow them to essentially deny the grievance process to all workers. Management s unnecessarily complex grievance procedure would require a lawyer to understand it. There are currently about a dozen grievances outstanding against WBAI management.
Institution of a new class of temporary worker who would not be covered by the Contract; there would be no limits to how long such temporary workers would be allowed to occupy positions at WBAI.
A watering down of WBAI s non-discrimination commitment, including the removal of the agreement not to discriminate on the basis of veteran status.
Increasing the probationary period of new employees from the current 3 months to 130 days.
Watering down of health & safety provisions.
Requiring that employees pay all medical insurance premiums above an unspecified monthly limit. Employees are currently provided medical and dental insurance without having to pay premiums.
Reduction of transportation reimbursement.
Pacifica rules prohibit the mention or discussion of any issues related to Pacifica or any Pacifica station, including WBAI, if Management does not like the subject matter involved. When a programmer at KPFK read a newspaper article on the problems faced by workers at that station he was removed from the air and permanently banned from the station.