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More than 250 Writers Guild of America members -- producers, editors, writers, desk assistants (even Andy Rooney) -- struck CBS in March 1987. It was known as a "television writers" strike -- but it also crippled operations at WCBS Radio, especially as other unions refused to cross WGA picket lines, and garbage (and rats) took over Black Rock at 51 W. 52nd Street, where WCBS operated out of the sixteenth floor. Thirty-two WGA members at Newsradio 88 took to the picket lines. The heavy in the strike was Lawrence Tisch, once viewed as a white knight who rescued CBS (following the infirmity of aged founder William S. Paley), later as a corporate pirate who sold off what was once known as the Tiffany network. IBEW employees (engineers and technicians) struck CBS twice after Newsradio88 was launched in 1967, but this was the first time editorial employees went on strike.

WGA Strike Promotional Flier. Click to enlarge.

New York Times article about the strike, March 27, 1987. Click to enlarge.

Newsday article about the strike, April 7, 1987. Click to enlarge.

Public, even company sentiment, was on the side of the writers. AFTRA members at WCBS, led by morning anchor Jim Donnelly, contributed cash to the WGA strike fund. From his own pocket, WCBS News Director Mike Ludlum paid for coffee and donuts for WGA members walking the bitter cold picket line. Strikers sought warmth in the lobby of the nearby Hilton Hotel, a branch library, and a McDonald's in a lower level of the Time-Life Building. As Lawrence Tisch left his limousine to cross the lines to enter his offices at Black Rock he was booed and jeered. When the strike ended after three months, WGA members were feted with balloons and orange juice -- and a sad, unnecessary episode in the history of WCBS ended.

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