the real strike story: The Marriott
owned WPGC... it was the only union company owned by the Marriotts
anywhere, and they wanted the union gone. The union minimum in
'77 was around 18k. We where hopeful of maybe 20k. The company
negotiated everything but salaries, refusing to do so till 11pm
on the final day of the contract. Then with 1 hour to go they
offered 7k immediately, 7k more at the start of year 2 and 5k
more at the start of year 3. Thus we would go from 18k to 37k
in 2 years. Wow!
one catch.... we had to give up the 'deem to be live clause'.
What? We didn't know what that was. So in the hour left on the
contract Evelyn Freeman (DC Union chief) explained to us how it
was the clause on which AFTRA was founded. Seems jocks in New
York were being paid for 5 day weeks, but had to record shows
for air on the 6th and 7th days. The clause said, that if you
record a show, and it airs out of shift, you get paid for the
time it takes to record it, and the time it airs.
as they left the room, they told us that with or WITHOUT the union,
the offer was on the table... HINT HINT HINT. Well, we spent the
rest of our hour trying to figure out just how the company planned
to use this. I mean it must be a big deal if it's worth 19k a
year per jock. What were they up to?
it turns out we were missing the forest for the trees. The only
reason the company wanted this clause gone, is because National
AFTRA would not approve the contract without it. They figured
we'd see the light, decertify the union, and take the deal. They
get no union, we get big bucks.
must have known that was what the Marriotts wanted, but she never
said so. She just kept telling us all the awful stuff that might
happen without 'deem to be live'.... and pretty soon our
hour was up... and we were on strike. Oh and once you're on strike...
it's illegal to decertify a union. So to talk the deal then, we
had to cross a picket line, and give up union work forever. As
a result Jim
who figured this was his last radio job anyway, took the deal...
the rest of us found new employers.
strike was not about raises or benefits or clauses. It was about
union busting on the Marriott's part, and a bunch of DJ's who
didn't see the light till too late.
the crossing the picket line
strike was the major stumbling block to the deal with Q107. Of
course, having crossed the line in 1977 resulted in my being tossed
from the union. They brought me up on charges and I had the head
of the National Right to Work Foundation as my attorney. Let's
remember that the union used the jocks in 1977 as sacrificial
lambs to protect their own interests....
AFTRA never gave a shit about the folks at the 'little station
in Bladensburg' as AFTRA's Evelyn Freeman spent much of her time
(and gained her power) by dealing with the three network O+O's.
I was shop steward at WPGC and the Marriotts actually offered
us more money that we asked Evelyn to get us...and she said we
could never get what we asked for!! She scared the rest of the
crew and they supported her. Could go on for hours on that one.
Dave Foxx remembers:
meeting with Jim Collins
guess I was pretty naive when I got to WPGC. I had no concept
of how nasty the Strike was until a few years later when I first met the local AFTRA
representative and she wanted me put in jail...literally. After
I did my first shift, the late Jim
Collins met me across the street to offer me a full time
job after the strike was over. After I picked my jaw up off
the ground, I said yes of course. Neither of us knew what the
outcome of the strike would be, but he said that there were
a couple of people he'd be happy to replace anyway, once the
dust settled. Of course now we know that I would be replacing Jim Elliott who moved to morning drive.
driving the WPGC Money Car during the Strike
most vivid memory has to be the
Strike in May of 1977.
Truckers trying to run the Lincoln
(WPGC Money Car) off the road while I was driving it, watching
the picketers out of my apartment window, picking up non-union
jocks at the airport...and yes I was on the air doing the Sunday
morning news...it was AWFUL.
the Strike and its aftermath in 1977
the beginning it was total chaos...I got into town about midnight
just as the strike began...I did morning drive the first morning
and Bill Prettyman
was reading the news believe it or not.....He sounded pretty good
by the way...Little by little we hired new people...Dave
Foxx came from our Provo station...we hired Brandt
Miller to do afternoons...Waylon
Richards had worked with me a few years before in Kansas City
and finally Liz
Kiley came from Grand Rapids,. I believe she was a former
school teacher.....Within 4 months, the staff began to gel and
within a year, WPGC had tied WMAL for the number one position
in the market....It was quite an accomplishment...I left to take
a VP/GM job at KTSA / KTFM in San Antonio and Scott
Shannon came in and even made it a better station.
Did the Marriotts ever get their come-uppance?
Elliott returned to the station to do mornings
he was never offered a contract; it was simply done on a handshake.
Little did the Marriotts know that single mistake would ultimately
lead to the demise of the station five years later which began
WPGC in 1982 to go to
With no contract in place to enforce, First Media had no legal
ground in preventing their departure.