Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The WBAI Severance Pay Mess

The following was posted anonymously to the BlueBoard this evening. Someone should have the courage to read it on the air.

WBAI should do a show about the emergency situation now facing the laid off workerswhose unemployment benefits are now expiring and the Federal/State extended benefits program was terminated at the end of 2013, meaning they get only 26 weeks of benefits and thats it. Period. No extensions of any kind. No further help from the state. 
The purge happened the second week of August, 2013

... do the math.

(If anyone has any news or evidence to the contrary, I am sure all of your unemployed comrades would be very happy to learn about it)

The silence is deafening on the question of severance, leaving all of these people out in the cold to fend for themselves... many of these people are older, unable to find work of any kind due to the shifting sands of technology, obsolete skill sets, age discrimination and the horrendous economy. Some have serious health issues... I wonder how many people here are even aware that our beloved Uncle Sidney almost died a few weeks ago after his medical insurance was illegally terminated and he was unable to obtain a very expensive medication that he has been taking for years and unfortunately at this time can not live without.

This shit is no joke. You are playing too many games with peoples lives. If Sidney dies because of your negligence, the blood is on YOUR hands, Pacifica management.
I was going to say, I hope you can live with your conscience, but I know my words will be wasted because you heartless bastards clearly don't have any.

The total disregard for the lives and well being of your laid off colleagues and all of this empty talk about unions and solidarity is making me sick. The hypocrisy surrounding this organization never ceases to amaze me. You have the need for some serious social activism right here, right now taking care of your own... so where the fuck are all of these so called social activists? And these laid-off employees faithfully paid their Union dues for years and years, so where is the Union now when they need the help most? Why is severance not being treated as a priority and the dire emergency situation that it now has become?

If you want an idea for a truly worthwhile project, how about taking some of that precious airtime being wasted on the endless recitation of meaningless slogans, repeated rebroadcasts of mindless blather and annoying hour long programs of ADD inducing sound bytes, etc, and use it to do a show to advise former employees some tactical skills on survival, how and where to apply for further benefits they may possibly be eligible for, where to find additional resources and help, free or low cost legal representation, (especially for those who are soon facing eviction), as well as other relevant issues I haven't thought of yet.

How about brainstorming the creation of some kind of opportunity for these laid off workers to generate some income for themselves while they are waiting for their severance (obligatory maniacal laugh), or retirement or disability or public assistance to kick in. These people need something to live on NOW.
To my fellow listeners, I would like to offer this appeal: 

Take that money you were going to donate to the station, and give it directly to your favorite laid off producer instead. Please believe me when I say, they need it a hell of a lot more and will put it to far better use then this perpetually sinking ship of a station.

Sadly, the WBAI of the past is gone forever and it ain't never coming back. It has been a noble struggle, but times have changed and it is simply not possible to reclaim what has been lost. The radio station will be reborn as some new incarnation... we all mourn the loss, but due to so many years of infighting, incompetence and mismanagement, change is inevitable at this point. Let's all keep working towards the best possible outcome, but considering the most positive use of our resources and not waste what little we have on an impossible pursuit.
The radio station will survive, but that favorite producer of yours may not be quite so lucky. So look them up, reach out and get in contact with him or her, find out if there is anything you can do to help them get through this tough time imposed on them through no fault of their own... I know there are a lot of good people out there who really do care and who do keep that spirit of activism alive and sincerely want to help.

Also, let's keep the issue of the severance obligation in the forefront... the management has gotten away with ignoring it for far too long and it is causing too many people to suffer, possibly to die or become homeless. Please help.


  1. 'm reposting here my reply as already posted to the blueboard:

    If you want to pay severance and health insurance, you have to sell something.
    Actually, for whatever it's worth, Summer Reese was very clear on the need to assign priority to paying severance and maintaining health insurance. At some point, I think on Sunday, someone was pushing for a mass mailing to clean up existing mailing lists, and Reese was *furious* – She said in no uncertain terms that that was a waste of money Pacifica literally doesn't have, and that first priority was on paying the seveance owed and paying health care premiums – she said, for example, specifically, that WBAI, WPFW, and KPFT all have a common health premium to pay, and that for some time now only KPFT was actually paying it, and that Pacifica had to find that money. She was *very* clear, judging by her tone of voice, and her volume level, that this was a priority.

    She was also pretty clear that the key problem is that [again in a clear tone and with a raised voice] THERE IS NO MONEY.

    For my part, I'd say move on to an LMA/PSOA with a right of first refusal or option to buy, and let those pay for the severance and health premiums – there is no other realisitc chance of raising the money (unless you want to move to a straight outright sale).

    ~ 'IndigoPirate'

  2. Five licenses and no revenue... sad. My only question is, all the left wing so-called progressive investigative and activist journalists, why is nobody covering Pacifica? Why don't the laid off and struggling employees file a criminal complaint against Pacifica? Why doesn't anybody on the Right trash Pacifica in public?

  3. Although I do not agree with every action Summer Reese has taken in the 18 months she has been our acting ED, I have to point out that she is the best ED we have had in my memory (which is 15 years long in Pacifica). During this time we have had no lawsuits against us, thanks to her proactive actions in negotiating with creditors. The most pressing obligation, the debt that Amy Goodman holds over our heads, is still there, but Summer has kept us from going over the cliff financially. We should all be very grateful for her skill, her legal experience, and her devotion to Pacifica as an entity. Unfortunately there are many members of the board who are so naive about business practices, and so controlled by ideologues and worse, who fail to read the bylaws, who refuse to consider legal or HR counsel before passing dangerous motions that jeopardize the Foundation, that they don't know competence when they see it. Or, probably to be more accurate, see that competence as a threat to their attempts to take control of the Foundation, sell off WBAI, and pocket the resulting windfall.

    Carolyn Birden
    Listener-elected member of
    the WBAI LSB and PNB

  4. I think that an LMA/PSOA or outright sale of 99.5 to a worthwhile entity is the best course. I suspect it's the best course for PFW as well. From my perspective it isn't visions of a windfall that matter, since an LMA/PSOA or even outright sale of 99.5 won't actually generate an enormous windfall if it's to a worthy organization – which I feel strongly it should be.

    What matters, from my perspective, is that there be *something* worthwhile on 99.5, and I see no realistic expectation of that possibility without wiping the slate clean – absolutely, completely, and truly clean.

    There would be the additional advantage that Pacifica might be sufficiently shaken up in the process that it might be truly radically restructured and rebooted.

    That said, I share your positive assessment of Ms Reese and your very negative judgement of the PNB.

    ~ 'indigo'

  5. Could somebody explain to me please, how on earth Amy Goodman came to hold that great debt over Pacifica? Who, why and how signed such a beneficial contract to her advantage? Was it part of an out of Court settlement with her or was it something else?

  6. The original 5 year DN contract was negotiated and signed by Leslie Cagan and Dan Coughlin as the first PNB chair and the first Pacifica executive director. That contract was generous, but at the time airing Democracy Now was quite lucrative for Pacifica. In 2007, the contract was renewed without any changes and still increasing at 4% annually by Dan Siegel and at that point in time it was a ludicrous giveaway of a huge chunk of money and an outright theft from Pacifica. The 2007 national board was dominated by folks affiliated with what is now Grassroots KPFK, Save KPFA and the Justice and Unity Caucus and they went for it whole-hog. It has financially destabilized the foundation.

  7. Thank you for the insight! You said that Leslie Cagan and Dan Coughlin were the FIRST national board officials. Do you mean that there was no Pacifica National Board previously? Why was there 4% annual increase that was not predicated on the audience growth? Why did Dan Siegel give away the store.

    If the Grassroots KPFK, Save KPFK and Justice and Unity supported Democracy Now! Whole Pig, am I seeing this correctly? Pacifica National board tried to impose its will over the local stations to make them more profitable (or maybe actually mote sustainable financially), they were opposed by the local radio station activists - the Grassroots KPFK, the Save KPFK and Justice and Unity Coalition. Amy Goodman was fired by Pacifica (I draw a blank here - for what reason?). The local activists win concessions and get the Local Station Boards and the Arbitration-Mandated local listener boards and expensive elections. Amy Goodman gets her independent show, and the local activists award her the Pacifica syndication. My question is - Does Democracy now fund Justice and Unity and its sister coalitions, such as Save KPFA and KPFK Grassroots. Is Democracy Now donating any of its revenue to the radical left wing factions that brought the show onto Pacifica?

    Am I correct so far, or if not, where am I mistaken? Which factions did Summer Reese come from and who is backing her?