Resolutions and statements of support
1-28-01 - 2-26-01
Black Radical Congress | Unity Party | CUNY union | Danny Glover
Sebastopol, CA City Council | Berkeley City Council | New York City council
California Legislature | Ad in the Nation Magazine | National Writers Union
KPFA staff | NY Musicians' Union
Last year, the Black Radical Congress expressed its "dismay and outrage" over the undermining of the progressive mission of radio station KPFA, in the San Francisco Bay area, by the board of the Pacifica Foundation. At the time, the board had perpetrated firings and lockouts of key staff members, which disrupted programming at the station -- the Pacifica Network's flagship of progressive, community-oriented commentary -- but which also sparked a vigorous and sustained defense of the station by the community it serves. Happily, that community was successful in protecting KPFA's principled, alternative mission to provide an outlet for voices rarely heard in "mainstream" venues: voices primarily from the ground and from the left.
In the meantime, however, Pacifica's east coast equivalent of KPFA, station WBAI in New York City, has come under a siege that mirrors the KPFA struggle to survive actions of a board bent on destructive change. Again, listeners dependent on the alternative sources of news, information and analyses available on a Pacifica station are alarmed and fearful that they are about to lose it all. Again, programming has been disrupted as beleaguered staff have been subjected to firings, lockouts and even "bannings." The firings, handed down without any semblance of due process so far as we can determine, include general station manager Valerie Van Isler, programming director Bernard White and Sharan Harper, former producer of the popular morning show, "Wake-Up Call." In addition, Amy Goodman and her nationally broadcast, award-winning bastion of uncompromising, incisive progressive commentary and analysis, "Democracy Now!", appear to be especially targeted -- although, as we write, Goodman and her show remain on course. Also ominous is the fact that the destabilization of WBAI is happening just as the FCC has severely restricted the public's ability to establish community programming outlets on the nation's airwaves. These new restrictions facilitate the further privatization of the means of political and cultural expression, consistent with a continuing nationwide assault on all things public.
The Black Radical Congress understands, as do all reasonable people, that change is part of life. Undoubtedly, WBAI would benefit from managerial and professional "quality-control" adjustments designed to improve its operations. But any such changes must be made within the context of the station's founding mandate, and with respect for the rights of all staff to be treated fairly. The New York communities served by WBAI will not accept the dilution of the station's progressive voice, which seems to be the subtext of the Pacifica board's stated "audience expansion" objective. Nor can they accept the anti-democratic treatment meted out to union and management personnel alike by the Pacifica board and its agents.
The Black Radical Congress demands, as steps toward resolving the current difficulties:
(1) that terminated staff be reinstated, and that any issues concerning their job performance be addressed according to accepted due process procedures;
(2) that the "bannings" and lockouts of certain staff members be lifted, and
(3) that the concerns and expectations of the WBAI listenership be heeded and reflected in the process of settling the crisis. We strongly support the six dissident Pacifica National Board members who are working for a democratic and equitable solution to the crisis.
As the Black Radical Congress stated last year during the troubles at KPFA, we must protect our public institutions and services from the rampaging two-headed monster: corporate greed and would-be political tyranny -- a monster no doubt emboldened by the installation of so-called President George W. Bush. Radio station WBAI is yet a new battlefront in the intensifying struggle to build real democracy in this country.
Black Radical Congress
Feb. 25th, 2001
Executive Committee statement of the Unity Party
The Unity Party, a New York-based, Black-led, independent, multi-racial, progressive organization, supports the efforts of the six members of the board of Pacifica, and thousands of Pacifica listeners, to return Pacifica to its original vision as a non-corporate, community-based, democratic, national radio network. We specifically:
-oppose the proposed new bylaws put together by boad member John Murdock and others which would make a mockery of this vision;
-call for the resignation from the board of Murdock and others attempting to corporatize Pacifica; and,
-support the re-empowerment of local station advisory boards, as well as opennness and transparency in Pacifica decision-making processes.
It would be a tragedy and a loss for all who value social justice and democracy if Pacifica is not reclaimed and redeemed. We will contribute as best we can to this critical objective.Feb. 22, 2001
CUNY's faculty and staff union protests attacks on WBAI
At last night's (Thursday's) delegate assembly, the Professsional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (the university's faculty and staff union), unanimously adopted a resolution contained the following two resolved clauses:
"Resolved that the PSC-CUNY reaffirms its commitment to free speech, the democratic need for a diversity of opinion, and union solidarity; and be it further
Resolved, that the PSC-CUNY vigorously protests the recent firings and censorship efforts at WBAI and calls upon the Pacifica National Board to stop stifling community- based stations that express radical voices so often muffled in today's society."
The union also expressed its support for Resolution No. 1723 by Council Member Quinn on behalf of the local, democratically run WBAI.
The delegate assembly is the authoritative voice of the union.
Bill Crain.Feb. 21, 2001 Excerpts from comments from Danny Glover,
at the Malcolm X Museum Committee Fundraiser, Feb. 21, 2001 in NYC.
(mp3 audio file (broadcast quality) can be dowloaded
"...when I worked with the African Liberation Support Committee, in the early, mid 70's, the information that we received about what was happening right there, on the front, with the liberation movements, whether it was FRELIMO, or SWAPO, whether it was NPLA, whatever, all the information I got came from Pacifica. The most up-to-date information, the deployment of Cuban troops, all of that came from Pacifica. We would come home from whatever we do and listen to Walter...uh, what's Walter's name? Walter and I went to college together, San Francisco State College together - Walter's programming, all the programs, an incredible resource, source of information about what was happening. What was happening not only there, on the continent, but also what was the reaction to that, what was happening on the continent, here.
I absolutely support the efforts....I do. Danny Glover supports the efforts to get a new Board that would vitalize, revitalize, in the ideas that that we have a mission as an independent news source, a mission to get the information to people, a mission to have that dialogue, to have people included in this dialogue, in this critical dialogue at this point in time, not only about democracy, about how we want to raise our children, about the planet we want to leave to our children, and it is a vital dialogue, and we have to be a part of it, and they have abdicated their right to be a part of that dialogue. Whatever they've have done in the past, whatever they've done in the past, in the civil rights movement, I'm not questioning that, and those who have been participants, but the fact is now we need new energy. We need to fight the power, we need to fight the power right now, not acquiesce to the power, not capitulate to the power.
..often came from Pacifica, from KPFA in Berkeley, from the station here in NY and LA. And it's under attack, and we have to understand that this attack is an attack on us, it is an attack on all of us who are really talking about institutional change, because the forces now in place have defined the whole arena of information, and how what information we are to receive, what the whole discourse that is happening around issues, all the issues, whether it is issues around globalization, whether it is issues around capital punishment, whether it is issues around poverty. Those forces define what the dialogue is, the first thing they want they do is to control those medias and those outlets that provide the truth, that include us in the dialogue, that include us in the discourse, so we have to be able to support, to recognize, as Malcolm would say, to recognize right now what the situation is, and begin to deal with the situation and support and fight for those. This is talking about right now, we're not talking about...we're talking about right now. We have to use this moment, as we remember Malcolm, and talk about the state of the issues now, and the battle which we have we to wage right now, and certainly the battle over who has control of information, who dictates the dialogue, who dictates the discourse is one of the key battles that we have to wage. We have to wage that."
February 20, 2001
Sebastopol (California) City Council resolution
RESOLUTION OF THE SEBASTOPOL CITY COUNCIL IN SUPPORT OF THE RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION OF PACIFICA RADIO FOUNDING PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY AND FAIRNESS
Whereas,KPFA in Berkeley, and WBAI in New York have a reputation of award winning journalism and reporting. And, KPFA and WBAI are leaders of independent broadcast media with their non-corporate, non-state controlled programming; and
Whereas, KPFA has 1568 Active members with Sebastopol Addresses, and
Whereas, KPFA's programming has served the culturally diverse interest of Sebastopol' residents for 52 years, and
Whereas the current structure of the Pacifica Foundation provides no means for Pacifica listener-sponsors to know about or to influence decision-making regarding the fate and uses of the stations and the foundation which they support,
Whereas the Pacifica National Board has undertaken to amend its by-laws in recent years to empower itself to entirely select its own membership and is presently facing three lawsuits challenging the legality of these undertaken changes and the status of many current PNB members,
Whereas Pacifica administration (Executive Director, National Program Director, Station Managers, and other top staff) have for years systematically removed from the network without due process large numbers of volunteers and staff people, including many on the grounds that they notified the listenership of matters of importance regarding the status and policies of the Pacifica Foundation,
Whereas recent actions of the PNB and the Pacifica Administration - particularly the lockout at KPFA in 1999 and the recent abrupt removal of key station staff from WBAI without following long-standing station procedures for such removals, as well as the imposition of security guards, the changing of station locks, and the threat of installation of surveillance equipment at WBAI - have provoked widespread objection, outrage and unrest among the station's supporters, workers, and the progressive community at large,
Whereas the aforementioned outrage, objection and unrest appear to be increasing rather than abating, threatening the reputation and financial stability of the entire Pacifica network,
Whereas the Pacifica administration and Pacifica National Board have been unwilling to engage in good-faith efforts to respond to the objections being raised by other Pacifica stakeholders,
Whereas the Pacifica National Board is presently contemplating substantial revision of the Foundation bylaws at a time when the legitimacy of its board, the legality of the bylaws and procedures it is presently operating under, and the reconfiguration of the network that it has undertaken are being questioned in both the legal arena and the court of public opinion,
Whereas the contemplated bylaw revisions contain a large number of substantive changes that run counter to Pacifica's tradition of shared governance and instead concentrate power, without accountability, in the hands of the dominant faction of the Pacifica National Board, which stands to gain extraordinary powers over the use and disposition of Pacifica assets at the expense of other Pacifica constituencies by their passage,
Whereas the objectionable portions of the proposed By-laws apparently include features that:
Whereas inadequate time is available prior to the upcoming Pacifica National Board meeting in March to fully evaluate the impact of the proposed By-laws changes and for affected Pacifica constituencies to register their views and for these views to be thoughtfully incorporated,
Whereas Pacifica, as the largest and most important non-state, non-corporate controlled independent broadcast media in the U.S. if not the world, - with an historic mission to promote peace and justice and built and financially supported by generations of visionaries and activists - must remain above reproach,
Be it therefore resolved that the Sebastopol City Council urges the following:
DULY ADOPTED BY COUNCIL ON the 20th Day of February, 2001
February 19, 2001
Support is growing for the local KPFA community in its struggle to retain its grassroots ideals of free speech and autonomy as the Berkeley City Council this week came out against a proposal by parent company Pacifica Radio Network to change its by-laws.
Such a change, City Councilmember Kriss Worthington said, would mean a dangerous shift in power from the people who built free-speech radio more than 50 years ago.
"Drastic revisions to the by-laws really consolidates power in a few hands - including the power to sell stations," Worthington said.
Last week, the City Council voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution that both supported KPFA staff members for their contribution to the community and opposed any change in Pacifica's by-laws. Councilmembers Betty Olds and Polly Armstrong abstained from voting.
The KPFA/Pacifica Radio Network conflict arose in July 1999 after Pacifica officials did not renew a popular KPFA general manager's contract and directed staff not to talk about the situation. Programmers and radio hosts protested, leading to a lock-out at the station and a three-day protest in the streets during which more than 50 people were arrested. Although the station re-opened later that month, there is still tension between station supporters and Pacifica. At the time, the City Council passed a number of resolutions supporting the station and its listeners.
At its national board meeting this March, Pacifica has proposed to revise its by-laws in several ways. The changes would enable Pacifica to whittle its board from 19 to as few as five which allows key decisions to be made by as few as three board members; reduce the minimum vote for removal of a board member from two- thirds to 51 percent; ban local advisory board members from serving on the national board; reduce meeting notice time to as little as 24 hours; allow Pacifica executives to serve on the board; and permit the sale of Pacifica assets.
These proposed changes coupled with recent staff firings and lockouts at WBAI - Pacifica's New York affiliate - prompted Worthington to take action.
"We got involved when there were serious problems with KPFA in Berkeley," Worthington said. "And the WBAI situation is eerily reminiscent of what happened at KPFA. It once again puts it into crisis mode because these are such extreme actions."
Worthington is meeting with state Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D- Berkeley) this week to gain additional support for local KPFA listeners.
That's the type of action that may be necessary to fend off the Pacifica establishment that "would rather censor, intimidate and fire rather than come to solution," according to KPFA disc jockey Robbie Osman.
Although Osman said Pacifica officials deny they will make any decision on their by-laws in March, he also warns that they could be lying.
Calls to Pacifica Radio Network were not returned.
Still, Osman appreciates the community support that the Berkeley City Council has given the station and its supporters in the past.
"KPFA is very closely tied to the whole Northern California community, particularly in Berkeley. And that's the glory of KPFA," he said. "That's the reason that 10 to 15 million people got off their duffs and protested the closure of KPFA and [Pacifica] started playing country and western music. It says a lot."
February 18, 2001
One fifth of California's Assemblymembers today signed a letter opposing changes in the Foundation's bylaws. The letter was circulated by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, who plans to bring it to the Senate chambers next week. In addition, Assemblywoman Dionne Aroner has asked the state's Audit Committee to reopen its investigation of the Pacifica crisis.
February, 14 2001
We Protest Pacifica's National Leadership Actions and Support the Dissenting Board Members
In an action reminiscent of its closing of Berkeley's KPFA in 1999, the Pacifica Foundation's national leadership is now moving against New York's WBAI. The station's managers have been fired, door locks changed in the middle of the night, staffers banned from the station and protesters arrested. Security guards have been brought into enforce the changes imposed without warning or explanation by Pacifica's Washington D.C.-based executive director, backed by its board membership.
Another target of the action, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman hangs on to her job amid harassment on-air and off by Pacifica's national leaders and recently-installed station management in New York. Meanwhile, Pacifica's newly-appointed morning show host has spoken on-air in support of the Pacifica board selling off WBAI.
For most of its 50-year history, Pacifica has been a public resource for the progressive community. Recently, a self-selected, unaccountable and secretive board majority has acted as if it owns Pacifica and has ruled by fiat. In the wake of this latest crisis, six courageous members of Pacifica's national board issued the following public dissent on January 18 in hopes of getting the Pacifica network back on path:
" We are deeply troubled by the recent developments at WBAI radio in New York City, one of the five stations of the Pacifica Foundation. It is not too late to remedy the situation, and we are working toward that end...
"__The National Board must take steps to ensure the immediate reinstatement of the three people fired at WBAI:Station Manager Valerie Van Isler, Program Director Bernard White, and Producer Sharan Harper. According to the information we have, the Pacifica Foundation's internal procedures were not followed, there was not compliance with union contracts, and none were informed of the cause of their firings. All three of these people should be reinstated as full time employees without further delay. Existing internal processes which address job performance, or any other concerns, must be followed.
"__The continuing 'banning' of long time volunteers and free-lance reporters, the decision to not allow the Local Advisory Board to meet at the station, and the use of security personnel are all having a chilling effect at the station. Action must be taken now to lift the bans, to ensure the LAB can meet at the station and to remove security people from the station.
"-As members of the National Board, we believe it is critically important to review the internal processes within the Pacifica Foundation. We must build democratic decision making structures throughout Pacifica and re-commit ourselves to work for the principles of free-speech, community-based, corporate-free radio, as first articulated by Pacifica Foundation's founder, Lewis Hill.
We support the efforts of the dissenting Pacifica Board members, especially their call to "build democratic decision making structures throughout Pacifica and re-commit ourselves to work for the principles of free-speech, community-based, corporate-free radio, as first articulated by Pacifica Foundation's founder, Lewis Hill".
(partial list-affiliations for ID only)
February 11 2001
This is to advise you of recent actions taken by the National Writers Union in support of WBAI workers, members of UE Local 404.
Concerned about the apparent violation of union contracts and the efforts of Pacifica management to censor journalistic expression at WBAI, the National Executive Board of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981), meeting on February 4, 2001, offered its "support and solidarity to UE Local 404 in regards to the situation at WBAI."
Furthermore, the Bay Area Local of the NWU, on Tuesday, February 6, signed on to the statement below, calling for a lifting of the state of siege by Pacifica management against WBAI staff, and demanding an end to the efforts of the Pacifica Board to undermine the mission and spirit of the Pacifica Network by eliminating accountability to its listener supporters and selling off network assets.
We, the undersigned, are trade unionists & Labor organizations who represent tens of thousands of working people, many of whom listen to Pacifica network radio stations and support these stations. Historically, Pacifica's listener-sponsored, Community-based, progressive radio stations have not only covered but supported the efforts of working people everywhere to organize and gain their right to fair working conditions.
We deplore your recent actions at Station WBAI, which have threatened employee rights, gravely violate free speech principles, and place in jeopardy Pacifica's important role as an independent source of news, opinion, and culture.
Your recent treatment of WBAI's paid and unpaid staff, Local Advisory Board members, listeners and supporters would be reprehensible at a for-profit company, let alone at a non-profit institution which has been historically dedicated to the promotion of better conditions for all working people and whose mission has included serving as the voice of the voiceless.
We are disturbed that you are using funds largely donated by working people to retain the services of consultants and law firms like Epstein, Becker & Green, organizations known for thwarting the efforts of worker's right to organize and for advertising themselves as maintaining "union-free" workplaces.
We are similarly disturbed by the changes to the Pacifica Foundation's by-laws that have been proposed by Mr. John Murdock of Epstein, Becker & Green. They would, if allowed, remove all accountability by the Pacifica Foundation's Board to its constituencies, allow the Board to self-select itself, and would place the Foundation's resources and decision-making power in the hands of as few as three undemocratically self-selected Board members.
We believe that your recent actions run counter to the values of the Democratic, Progressive, Community-based media upon which Pacifica was founded. These activities are in direct violation of the Mission of the Pacifica Foundation and they must be reversed.
We, hereby, call for you to take the following actions:
- Rehire all fired WBAI staff and eliminate your "gag" rule and all forms of censorship at all Pacifica stations.
- Do not retain the services Epstein, Becker & Green or any other consultants whose work opposes the efforts of working people to organize for better working conditions.
- Do not approve the by-law changes proposed by Mr. Murdock. Keep the original by-laws which are consistent with the original Mission of the Pacifica Foundation.
- Restore the Pacifica Foundation to a democratic structure that makes it accountable to its Constituencies; remove all illegally appointed Board members.
- Do not sell Stations WBAI or KPFA
January 29, 2001
Note: This statement was also read at the San Francisco rally outside Epstein, Becker this week.
As members of the KPFA staff, paid and unpaid, we condemn the outrageous actions taken by the Pacifica Foundation's leadership at our sister station WBAI in New York on December 23rd, 2000. We support the demand made by the concerned staff and listeners of WBAI for the return of all fired and banned staff, as well as their demand for a democratic process to determine the leadership of the station.
In the month since the initial crackdown at WBAI, Pacifica management has responded to criticisms from staff, listeners, and media watchdog groups, not by beginning a dialogue, but instead by extending its pattern of abuses. These include: further "bannings" of volunteer staff, on-air harassment of staff who have been critical of the actions taken by Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash and Interim General Manager Utrice Leid, and notifying WBAI's Local Advisory Board that it will no longer be allowed to meet in the station. All these actions run counter to the values of democratic, community-based media on which Pacifica was founded. They must be reversed.
The recent events at WBAI are chillingly reminiscent of the lockout at KPFA in 1999 and demonstrate the necessity for a complete overhaul of the Pacifica National Board and the management structure it directs. We support the legal efforts of listeners, fired staffers, and dissident members of the National Board to make Pacifica's governance and management processes transparent and responsive to the communities which have built the network over the last fifty-two years.
January 28, 2001
Attention Local 802 members and friends!
HELP SAVE UNION-FRIENDLY WBAI!
A lockout at the community-sponsored radio staion WBAI, 99.5FM has taken place, and friends of WBAI are asked to join a growing group of concerned listeners to attend an emergency rally on Saturday, January 6 at 12 Noon to protest the illegal lockout. The rally will take place in front of WBAI, at 120 Wall Street. Take the 2,3 or 4 train to the Wall Street station.
Why is this lockout important to 802 members? WBAI's staff, represented by the United Electrical workers, have been a consistent and vocal voice for the labor movement in general, and to Local 802 in particular. On numerous occasions, WBAI has invited Local 802 representatives to go on the air to discuss issues of concern to our members. WBAI covered the NYC Ballet Strike, helped spread the word about the struggle for union representation at the Apollo, and has had in-depth programs on the union's Justice for Jazz Artists campaign.
Why has WBAI locked out its radio personalities?
In short, WBAI is partially controlled by the national Pacifica Foundation, which has several stations throughout the country. Pacifica has been accused of trying to control WBAI, in an attempt alter WBAI's mission towards more of a main-stream radio station.
In a move many people see as contradictory to Pacifica's history, the law firm of Epstein, Becker, and Green has been retained to help fight the UE shop at WBAI. According to www.savepacifica.net, Epstein, Becker is known as a union-busting lawfirm.
For more information, and to email statements of protest, please visit the website www.savepacifica.net Most mainstream media in NY either ignores labor's message, or is hostile towards it. WBAI is too valuable a resource for the labor movement to let die. Help Save WBAI!
Black Radical Congress | Unity Party | CUNY union | Danny Glover
Sebastopol, CA City Council | Berkeley City Council | New York City council | California Legislature
Ad in the Nation Magazine | National Writers Union | KPFA staff | NY Musicians' Union
resolutions and statements of support page
top of page | home
sponsors this site