The Fight to Save WBAI - 1977 back  next

Chronology of Crisis
Feb. 7Presentation of new programming format by Yoruba Guzman
Feb. 9 Staff forms union to resist program
Feb. 11 Staff presents demands to Board.
Board announces intention to take station off the air
Staff broadcasts until power is shut off by board 7:00
Staff Union begins occupation of station
Feb. 13 First weekly meeting of Friends of WBAI-over 300 attend
Feb. 14 Begin picketing of Board members homes and offices
Feb. 19 Petition campaign initiated. More than 10,000 signatures to date
Feb. 20 Picketing by 120 people in rain outside Board member George Fox's home
Feb. 21
Mar. 11
Continued picketing; leaflets and petitions distributed throughout metropolitan area; Friends continue to meet and organize local actions
Mar. 11 Board announces intended legal action to evict the staff still occupying the station
Mar. 11
Mar. 18
Friends maintain a 24-hour presence on the steps of WBAI in defense of staff Union; Representatives of Friends attend Union meetings as observers; Numerous demands presented to and denied by Board, to include Friends in negotiations
Mar. 15 Friends engage legal counsel In firm of Stolar, Alterman and Gulielimetti to compell the Board to admit us into negotiations and to formulate offensive litigation against Pacifica to guarantee listener participation in the fundamental life of WBAI
Mar. 18 2 staff members and 3 Friends arrested when cleared building
Mar. 19
Mar. 23
24-hour Union picket at station; Friends continue vigil; Union-Board negotiations; Pressure put on board by telephone, letters and telegrams to admit Friends; Board refuses
Mar. 24 Friends hold press conference; announce affirmative legal action designed to insure listener participation in WBAI decisions; discuss case of the five people arrested at the station on March 18, who's hearings would take place that afternoon. Justice Oliver Sutton would not drop charges but granted two week adjournment. (New Hearing set for April 7, 1977. Check Action Number- 1-[212]-675-3045)
Mar. 26 Staff Union accepts interim agreement by vote of 77 to 17
Mar. 27 Friends General Meeting votes to proceed with legal action. fundraising, escrow account, strong local organizing and discussion on future form and Content of WBAI. Friends demand local and national boards be an elected body and responsible to its listening community.

Union Demands Include:
  1. Management recognize the union of paid and unpaid staff.
  2. Management negotiate with the union grievance committee.
  3. A moratorium on recent format and personnel changes until they can be proven in discussion to be feasible and consistent with Pacifica principles.
  4. Programming changes be discussed and negotiated between the Program Director and the Union.
  5. The Program Director perform only that function arid not host any regularly scheduled programs.

On March 25,1977, the Union and Management reached a tentative agreement whereby the station would go on the air April

  1. 1977 for a 45-day interim programming period. The salient points were as follows: 1. Recognition of paid workers and unpaid workers who put in eight hours per week or 32 hours per month for the past 3 months.
  2. Four job categories are:
    1. Management personnel who hire and fire;
    2. Direct employees of the Pacifica Foundation
    3. Guest of WBAI radio
    4. Independent contractors.
  3. "Management has the right to institute programming changes and to exercise sole and complete control over what goes over the air."
  4. limited air time allotted during only the first two weeks of the interim period for discussion of issues surrounding the crisis. Amount of air time up to discretion of agreement. The agreement limits listener participation to screened telephone call-in. (No scheduled airspace.)

This agreement provides for no listener or staff input into programming decisions. WBAI may return to the air April 1, but in a prepackaged, prescreened form, unacceptable to the Friends of WBAI. We must continue to demand a voice and work to insure that WBAI programming be uncensored and responsive to the needs of the community.

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