As part of the Midnight Coup at WBAI several people were fired. One of these was Sharan Harper, whose job description is Programming Assistant. Ms. Harper is a Collective Bargaining Unit member and as such is covered by the terms of the WBAI Union Contract. Ms. Harper is also a Shop Steward at WBAI.

Ms. Harper's firing was unfair and Management tried to get away with not even giving a reason for the firing. From what Interim General Manager Utrice Leid has said the real reason for the firing of Ms. Harper is guilt by association.

The documents on this page track the progress of this grievance.

WBAI letterhead

Date: December 22, 2000

To: Staff

From: Utrice C. Leid, Interim Station Manager

Re: Personnel

Please be advised that the following individuals, Valerie Van Isler, Bernard White, and Sharan Harper are no longer staff at WBAI and are no longer authorized to enter the WBAI premises. Any [sic] permitting or facilitating their entry into the premises will be subjected to disciplinary action. We all must work together if we intend to provide a productive and conducive work environment essential to the mission of the station.

The following is an E-mail from Ms. Harper requesting that the Union file a grievance on her behalf.

TO: R. Paul Martin
FROM: Sharan Louise Harper
RE: Termination of Employment at WBAI Radio
DATE: December 23, 2000

I am requesting that the union file a formal grievance on my behalf for illegal termination.

This morning, at about 8:45 a.m. a messenger arrived at my door to deliver a letter from the Pacifica National Network. He told me that I would have to sign the contents. Inside was a letter that said

The letter gave no reason for my termination.

The messenger said that I would have to sign the letter and return it to him. Since there was only one copy of the letter, I told him I would not sign it. The messenger took the letter from my hand and said that he could not give me the letter. I handed him back the checks. He offered me the checks and I refused them. Hours later, I discovered that the checks had been shoved under the door.

My understanding is that this is an illegal firing. I received no warning prior to receiving this letter. Since the start of my employment to the present, I have received no warnings or disciplinary actions of any kind. I believe that this is a violation of the progressive discipline section of collective bargaining agreement.

If any other information is needed from me in order to formally file this grievance, please feel free to call me.

Happy holidays,

In solidarity,

P.S. I have 27 vacation days, and 2 comp holidays, May Day and Columbus Day

A grievance was filed.

uelogo.gif - 1728 Bytes MEMORANDUM TO: Utrice Leid, Interim General Manager WBAI

FROM: R. Paul Martin

DATE: December 24, 2000

RE: Step 2 grievance on behalf of Sharan Harper

In accordance with Section IX (Step 2), and Section XVIII of the Contract, the Shop Committee is hereby filing a grievance, at Step 2 of the grievance procedure, regarding Management's violation of the rights of Programming Assistant Sharan Harper by unfairly discharging her.

Management has violated Ms. Harper's rights by firing her by sending a messenger to her home on the morning of December 22, 2000, with a letter on Pacifica Foundation letterhead which said that she was terminated effective immediately. The letter also stated that if she came to WBAI it would be considered trespass and she would be subject to arrest.

Ms. Harper was told that she would not be given a copy of the letter, but was told by the messenger to sign it and that it would be taken back. No cause for termination was stated in the letter.

Management's action violates sections I, III, XVIII, XX, XXIII and all other relevant sections of the Contract.

The Union demands that Management immediately reinstate Ms. Harper to her position as Programming Assistant, compensate her for all wages lost as a result of Management's action and otherwise make her whole.


cc: Sharan Harper, Errol Maitland, Bruce Klipple (U.E. Rep.), Joanne Bobb (Chair, WBAI Local Board), Andrew Norris (WBAI Local Board)

Our UE Rep. Bruce Klipple also sent a letter to Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash about this illegal firing.

ue-dc1.jpg - 9580 Bytes
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, (UE)

645 North Street, Emmaus, PA 18049
(610) 965-7256 — FAX (610) 966-7767

December 26, 2000

Ms. Bessie Wash, Executive Director
Pacifica National Office
2390 Chaplain St, NW
Second Floor
Washington, DC 20009

Re: Management restructuring at WBAI New York

Dear Ms. Wash,

As Representative of UE Local 404 Union members and Staff at WBAI, I need to have some information as to the changes occurring at WBAI. I'm aware that WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler and Program Director Bernard White were released. Today, I briefly conversed with newly appointed General Manager, Utrice Leid confirming this. I understand some things may still be motion but please notify the Local Union and myself as soon as possible to this restructuring reasoning and future plans for the station. Please advise me if we may anticipate further Management personnel changes as well.

Union member and Shop Steward, Sharan Harper (Program Assistant) has also been discharged on December 23, 2000. I'm informed that you made these decisions, so until I have other information indicating something different, I'll direct my protest to you. Chief Steward, R. Paul Martin has filed a grievance, copy enclosed. Exactly what is your justification for this unjust discharge? To send a messenger to Sharan's home on December 23rd with letter in hand, two weeks pay with no reasons given for discharging her is unacceptable and contractually illegal. Please send to me a detailed explanation why Ms. Harper was terminated. Please include copies of all correspondence concerning Sharan's discharge, including any related inter-office memos or electronic mailings so we may start preparing our defense for Sharan in this unjust firing. There is a Union Contract in place at WBAI that Management must have “just cause” upon discharging of union employees, and Sharan and other employees deserve an explanation. Further, the Union is to be notified before discharge, absent any threatening behavior.

We ask that Sharan be reinstated immediately, made whole in any lost wages and benefits and that a full public apology be made to her as well as clearing her personnel record of this unfortunate episode.

Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this unfortunate incident further, please do not hesitate to call me.

_______________________________________ Sincerely,
Bruce J. Klipple
International Representative
UE Local 404

Sent certified, return receipt requested

cc: R. Paul Martin
UE National
Utrice Leid

The Local also demanded an accounting of charges from Management.

uelogo.gif - 1728 Bytes MEMORANDUM TO: Utrice Leid, Interim General Manager WBAI

FROM: R. Paul Martin

DATE: January 3, 2001

RE: Reasons for discharge

Following up on our memo to you RE: Step 2 grievance on behalf of Sharan Harper dated December 24, 2000, the Union is hereby demanding that Management state its reason for discharging Ms. Harper.

The Union is further demanding a written list of any other conditions which Management may have imposed on this worker including but not limited to any threats to have this worker arrested should she enter upon the premises of WBAI.


cc: Sharan Harper, Errol Maitland, Bruce Klipple (U.E. Rep.), Joanne Bobb (Chair, WBAI Local Board), Andrew Norris (WBAI Local Board)

Management took a long time to reply, blaming one full week of delay on a non-functioning computer printer. The below reply was in fact not ready until January 19th.

WBAI letterhead Memo

Date: January 12, 2001

To: R. Paul Martin

From: Utrice C. Leid [signed]

Re: Sharan Harper Appeal

I have reviewed the Step 2 grievance which has been submitted by the UE on behalf of Sharon [sic] Harper. Ms. Harper was terminated due to her conduct and actions with respect to the production of the Wake Up Call program. Upon further review of the circumstances and the conduct in question, I have concluded that the discharge of Ms. Harper was both warranted and appropriate. The grievance is therefore denied.

Of course this grievance is still active. We are probably going to go to arbitration on this grievance. This will cost both the Union and WBAI thousands of dollars, but in the end we are confident that Ms. Harper will be fully restored to her position at WBAI.

WBAI/UE Local 404 has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over Management's firing of Shop Steward Sharan Harper. Here is a graphic of the charge sheet. It's a little over 100 KB in size.

This page will be updated as events warrant.

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