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Democracy Now!
... Aftra gets a clue 8-24-01

Dear Friends,

Thanks to pressure from our movement, sources say that AFTRA has rescinded its back-back-to-work order (that it should never have issued) to Amy Goodman and the Democracy Now! crew.

Pacifica management has not budged however, and is still insisting that Amy return to WBAI so that the calculated campaign of threats and intimidation can continue.

Pacifica National program Director Steve Yasko could of course remedy the situation, as could Bessie Wash, but they are implicated in the intentional creation of a climate designed to force Amy out, one way or another.

Yasko has been getting quite a few phone calls at his home, and many people have reported getting angry calls from him. I too got a couple of calls from him. He promised to call me everytime someone called his home, but he hasn't done so.

The gist of his comments was that he thought that I had violated the rules of engagement by publishing his home phone. He doesn't get to tell us what the rules of engagement are. He may work to destroy Pacifica and harass Democracy Now! from nine to five as a gun-for-hire, but we are fighting round the clock out of necessity to keep a lone free voice alive on the airwaves of the U$A.

There will be some official announcement [below] of these developments emerging at some point i am sure. I just wanted you to know that your efforts made a difference.




AFTRA Statement Re:Democracy Now! August 23, 2001

On August 13th, AFTRA was informed by the AFTRA members employed on Democracy Now! that they could not continue to report to work at the WBAI studios because they were afraid for their physical safety. Because of the seriousness of the allegations and AFTRA's strong concern for the members' safety, AFTRA was in immediate contact with Pacifica management, and together with the AFTRA members involved, attempted to reach a resolution to the matter. In the course of these negotiations, Pacifica agreed to

take affirmative steps to address the concerns raised by AFTRA, including the issuance to all personnel -- management and non-management, paid and unpaid -- of a clear statement affirming that Pacifica commits to maintaining a workplace that is safe, secure, and free of discrimination, harassment, intimidation or physical altercation. AFTRA informed Pacifica that grievances would be filed, but Pacifica agreed to immediately begin an investigation into the events that led to the members' decision not to return to the WBAI site. Based upon Pacifica's representations and written assurances of the steps that would be taken to guarantee worker safety, AFTRA directed the Democracy Now! staff to report to work in order to fulfil AFTRA's contractual obligations under the no-strike clause of the collective bargaining agreement.

Nevertheless, AFTRA has continued to monitor the situation, and because of certain events that have subsequently occurred at WBAI, which AFTRA considers inconsistent with the steps that Pacifica had agreed to take to ensure the safety of the Democracy Now! staff, AFTRA has notified Pacifica that it is no longer satisfied that the WBAI studios are a safe and appropriate working environment for the Democracy Now! staff. AFTRA is in constant contact with the Democracy Now! staff and Pacifica and the situation is still developing,

This situation has involved volatile, emotional and complex issues, and as such, the potential for confusion and misinformation is high. AFTRA's primary concern during this time has been, first, the safety of its members and second, the pursuit of their rights under the AFTRA collective bargaining agreement. Any information which has circulated indicating that AFTRA has not, or will not, vigorously pursue the rights of its members to a safe workplace free of discrimination, harassment, intimidation (physical or otherwise) is simply inaccurate. AFTRA has not, and will not tolerate unsafe working conditions for its members.

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