Listener Candidate Statement


Berta Silva (Chicana/Latina community activist; labor organizer with 1199/SEIU; member of 1199 Peace & Justice Committee)

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Berta Silva

I am running for the Local Station Board with the WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign (, which has a strong commitment to maintaining the station’s racial and cultural diversity and its commitment to activist, anti-racist programming.

I was elected LSB Secretary in December 2004 (although not a board member then). Since then, I have been responsible for taking the minutes, preparing them for board approval, updating the LSB’s webpage, and related work. I became a board member six months ago when another member resigned and I was automatically added as the next highest runner-up from the last election.

In our time on the current board, Justice and Unity members have accomplished some positive objectives, such as approving sound, responsible station budgets (staving off other board members’ budget proposals that would have entailed draconian layoffs) and achieving the creation of a Pacifica national Spanish-language news show. But further progress has sometimes been frustrated by the high level of conflict stemming from major differences in world-views between board members. Nonetheless, we in Justice and Unity have consistently defended the Pacifica mission, particularly standing against racism in our institution and defending the rights of station workers to fair treatment.

I am Chicana, originally from Los Angeles. My parents are from Mexico and I came to this country as a child. I have been living in New York for almost 20 years, and have been a listener and contributor to WBAI over many years.

I am an organizer for 1199 SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, the progressive health-care workers’ union. As a long-time labor organizer, I have worked in a number of different areas: organizing the unorganized, representing nursing home, hospital, and university workers, and training shop leaders. I am also a member of 1199ers for Peace & Justice, which raises union members’ antiwar awareness and organizes their participation in demonstrations and educational activities.

My broad experience as an organizer and facilitator has given me the skills and sensitivity needed to help make the station more responsive to its broad base of listeners. To continue strengthening WBAI’s progressive agenda of inclusiveness, I hope to continue my work on the WBAI Committee of Inclusion.

If I am returned to the Board, I will strongly advocate that WBAI continue its tradition of providing a voice for activists and for the working class, such as New York’s Mexican, Dominican, and other Latino communities. That means supporting expanded programming that addresses the important issues facing working-class Latinos: poverty, unemployment, the language barrier, and the high dropout rate among youth. The Board has been given a rare and historic mandate to create a lasting and positive dialogue regarding programming, hiring, and fundraising, and should function as a vital partner of WBAI’s management and staff. I believe cooperation, not enmity, is the way forward.

Besides asking for your vote, I also strongly endorse my Justice & Unity colleagues:

Please vote for me and my colleagues in this precise order to maximize the impact of your vote:

1. Fr. Lawrence Lucas
2. Nia Bediako
3. Berta Silva
4. Ray Laforest
5. Marianela Tricoche
6. Bernadette Ellorin
7. Sam Spady
8. Samia Halaby
9. Imani Henry
10. Tibby Brooks


Click here for questionnaire