CWA Fires Salvo in War Against KPFA Union Busters

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in News

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Published on March 29, 2012 with 41 Comments

Union busters fouling public airwaves as Communications Workers of America presses KPFA to call off dogs

This just in from CWA regional vice-president Jim Weitkamp:

March 29, 2012

Since when would a progressive, community organization use voluntary donations to hire union-busting lawyers? That would never happen, right?

But it has happened at Pacifica Radio, where management has hired the notorious union-busting attorney Jackson Lewis–and CWA members are mad as hell.

This is a huge slap in the face to the workers who bring Pacifica’s shows to listeners and to the donors who expect their contributions to support radio programming, not union busting. It’s just the latest attack on the workers who make stations like KPFA in the Bay Area possible.

CWA-represented workers at Pacifica station KPFA have started a petition calling on Pacifica to drop this declaration of war right now and get rid of Jackson-Lewis. You can click here to stand with Pacifica Radio workers.

The current management at Pacifica Radio has a shameful record on workers’ rights.

There have been problems at Pacifica going back a long time, but hiring the premier firm behind the corporate attack on labor is an unprecedented breach of trust.

We need to stop this right now before this does serious damage to Pacifica Radio and union members’ jobs.

Please join me in signing the petition right now.

  • Thank you for covering this story. It comes as Pacifica (the corporation that owns KPFA and 4 other radio stations) continues to drive some of its best programmers out.

    Pacifica’s national board has been taken over by those responsible for these anti-worker actions, and is currently running roughshod over KPFA. Listeners at KPFA are organizing a strong campaign for local autonomy. Hundreds of listeners have signed petitions to hold a recall vote on the worse offender on the national board, Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. (Find out more at http://www.SaveKPFA.org.) If you are a current listener member you should receive a ballot for the vote.

    If you’re a former KPFA or Pacifica listener whose let your membership lapse, please renew it (minimum $25/yr) and vote in this fall’s local station elections. The local station reps you elect will determine who sits on Pacifica’s national board.

    KPFA Worker is a coalition of unpaid and paid staff, along with union and community supporters. We invite you to visit us at http://www.KPFAWorker.org to sign up for our newsletter. Or sign up for updates at the community group SaveKPFA.org or friend them on Facebook.

  • Eric Brooks

    This story is completely deceptive nonsense being drummed up by a clique of union workers who usurped a previous union at KPFA so that they could disenfranchise non-paid staff at the station (80% of the workers) from labor protections that they were previously granted, and from making decisions about the station and its programming. This clique also managed to get rid of the community programming advisory board in order to entrench decision making on programming to only themselves the paid staff (no community or non paid volunteer decision makers).

    This faction, deceptively calling itself ‘Save KPFA’ (stealing the name of a previous group that really -did- save KPFA from a hostile takeover in the 90s) is also trying to eject from the KPFA Local Station Board, long time media justice organizer and Media Alliance leader Tracy Rosenberg in order to gain majority voting power on the LSB so that it can dominate the station.

    To get a sense of the real story about what’s going on at KPFA go to: http://www.stopthekpfarecall.org/?p=476

    And to see a damning report about how that small clique of workers pointing fingers about law firms previously launched its own cynical lawsuit against Pacifica, hiring none other than Harmeet Dhillon, local Republican powerhouse, Bush/Cheney co-campaign chair, and Sarah Palin supporter, to attack Pacifica in the courts, go to: http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com/2011/05/kpfas-republican-activist.html

  • swaneagle harijan

    The hiring by Pacifica Radio of the notorious union busting law firm Jackson Lewis is appalling. Once again the move towards corporate silencing is trying to bring down KPFA. Listeners will not tolerate this. We are resisting the destruction of our freedoms on all fronts and this is yet another one. Expect resistance.

  • The Fog City Journal should not print propaganda without doing fact-checking first. The article is flat wrong on several counts.

    The Pacifica Foundation has used Jackson Lewis in lawsuits filed AGAINST them that are or are going to exceed the insurance deductible. They are restrained from using any attorneys in these cases but those on the insurance company short list. They are all union-busting employer side attorneys.

    The handful of cases has nothing to do with the unions. They are disputes with former managerial exempt employees, not members of bargaining units. Jackson Lewis has settled 2 cases and is working on two more and have been doing so since 2009. Members of the CWA and AFTRA sit on Pacifica’s board and approved and voted for the retentions and settlements with Jackson Lewis that they now scream about.

    At Berkeley’s KPFA, over 25 grievances, National Labor Relations board complaints and arbitrations have been filed by the CWA local..

    Jackson Lewis was not used on a single one of those matters. They used Folger-Levin, a firm used by KQED, the Fine Arts Museums of SF, and the SF Jewish Community Center, among other community organizations. All 25 complaints were resolved in Pacifica’s favor – including 5 straight times at the National Labor Relations Board.

    What the CWA isn’t telling you is they are backing a slate in KPFA’s political election. This is an attempt to get you to vote for the slate they prefer. Election year propaganda. Don’t fall for it. More at http://www.supportkpfa.org

  • Pacifica Radio: Regeneration or Sinking Into the Mire?

    (Arlene Engelhardt is the Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation).

    Pacifica respects our workers’ rights to union representation and we deplore “union busting” wherever it occurs—and it WILL NOT occur at Pacifica on my watch.

    We also expect Pacifica’s KPFA staff to act, speak and report with integrity and professionalism when they have disputes with management. In that expectation I have been deeply disappointed since I came to Pacifica in December 2009.

    For the past 18 months “KPFAWorker” and “SaveKPFA” have put out a relentless barrage of distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods intended to whip up a frenzy—with no middle ground, no nuance, no room for exploring and resolving the multi-faceted problems facing KPFA and Pacifica.

    Their most recent blast is that Pacifica’s hiring the Jackson Lewis law firm is “a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers.” This is an incendiary falsehood. Pacifica has amicable relations with all our employees’ unions except CWA local 9415 at KPFA.

    Jackson Lewis was first hired in 2010 to handle only litigation and is not involved in union relations at Pacifica at all.

    After several seriously mishandled lawsuits, Pacifica desperately needed a competent employment litigation defense firm. Jackson Lewis was hired from a list of firms approved by our insurance carrier. They have provided legal defense in five lawsuits around the network, including four brought by former management employees, and have handled two arbitrations at WBAI. Three cases are still pending including one at KPFA. Our insurance deductible for each case is $125k—more than 2 employees’ salaries and benefits for one year at KPFA.

    In every case, Jackson Lewis has saved us money by working at reduced rates and handling matters efficiently while looking for reasonable early settlements. In addition, they recently agreed to a retainer for 4 hours/month at greatly reduced rates to assist us with non-litigation matters. The amount of litigation around Pacifica is a disgrace that comes from years of extremely destructive factionalism.

    It’s up to the Pacifica National Board, but I have advised them that terminating Jackson Lewis would be reckless and expensive. Changing lawyers in mid-litigation is dangerous. The stations would have to pay new lawyers to get up to speed. Our insurance company may penalize us for it. They have done an exemplary job. And they are NOT engaged in “union busting” for Pacifica.

    Concerning Other Recent “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” Charges — Context Matters

    Ten years ago, through extraordinary efforts by Pacifica’s listeners, Pacifica was saved from a “corporatizing” board of directors. Their intent was to “NPR-ize” Pacifica and tone down its more radical programming.

    When the new board of directors took over in January 2002 Pacifica was bankrupt. The former Executive Director had drained all five stations’ bank accounts—including about $1.4 million from KPFA—to pay lawyers, PR firms & private investigators to fight the “Free Pacifica” movement. Pacifica was over $4 million in debt and had no cash.

    Through the extraordinary generosity of our listeners, Pacifica recovered and paid off its outside creditors between 2002-2005.

    For the first few years there was an air of excitement & victory that enlivened Pacifica. New programs were brought to the air. Elected local and national boards and program councils including listeners were established for the first time. But for some these were unsettling intrusions.

    The tide turned around 2006-2007. Faction fighting at all five stations took its toll. The spirit of collaboration and openness faded and programming became stagnant. Media activism on the internet began to displace Pacifica, as we were not keeping pace with innovations.

    Pacifica‘s overall listener support dropped 23%—from $13.8 million for fiscal year ending (FYE) September 30, 2006 to $10.6 million for FYE 2010. KPFA’s listener support dropped 27%—from $4.0 million for FYE 2005 to $2.9 million FYE 2010.

    KPFA, WBAI and WPFW have been running seriously in the red. KPFA lost $1.5 million in the four years from FYE 2007 through FYE 2010, while Pacifica as a whole lost $5.5 million. Stations have met their payrolls by not paying their share of network-wide expenses (Central Services)—for Democracy Now!, the Pacifica Radio Archives, our insurance, our auditors, etc. Stations have also used the National Office as a “bank” to advance sums for their expenses—health premiums, legal expenses, pension fund contributions, etc. As a result, Pacifica national is carrying almost $3.4 million in accounts receivable from the stations, and $1.3 million in debts to outside creditors. This cannot continue.

    If KPFA and Pacifica are to survive, then people must work together to solve our problems. KPFA’s programming must be revitalized. I’m proud of the work this past year of many people at KPFA in extremely difficult circumstances—especially the volunteers at the “Morning Mix” and the interim Manager and Program Director, Andrew Phillips & Carrie Core. They are bringing in new voices and perspectives and building new audiences for KPFA.

    But at the same time “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” is driving away listeners and donors with their constant negative campaign. Many listeners are sick of it and tuning us out and finding more positive things to support. A media revolution is underway. The Occupy Movement is demanding and creating it. KPFA & Pacifica can either open our doors and be a hub for it, or sink in our own mire.

    I do believe regeneration is possible. I call on everyone to put down their swords and find ways to solve our problems together.

    Feel free to respond to Arlene Engelhardt’s post. Gratuitous and expletive laden attacks will be cheerfully deleted. Commentaries filled with URL links will sit in our spam queue until we notice them. —Editor

  • Pacifica — Regeneration or Sinking Into the Mire?

    By Arlene Engelhardt, Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation

    Pacifica respects our workers’ rights to union representation and we deplore “union busting” wherever it occurs — and it WILL NOT occur at Pacifica on my watch.

    We also expect Pacifica’s KPFA staff to act, speak and report with integrity and professionalism when they have disputes with management. In that expectation I have been deeply disappointed since I came to Pacifica in December 2009.

    For the past 18 months “KPFAWorker” and “SaveKPFA” have put out a relentless barrage of distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods intended to whip up a frenzy — with no middle ground, no nuance, no room for exploring and resolving the multi-faceted problems facing KPFA and Pacifica.

    Their most recent blast is that Pacifica’s hiring the Jackson Lewis law firm is “a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers.” This is an incendiary falsehood. Pacifica has amicable relations with all our employees’ unions except CWA local 9415 at KPFA.

    Jackson Lewis was first hired in 2010 to handle only litigation and is not involved in union relations at Pacifica at all.

    After several seriously mishandled lawsuits, Pacifica desperately needed a competent employment litigation defense firm. Jackson Lewis was hired from a list of firms approved by our insurance carrier. They have provided legal defense in five lawsuits around the network, including four brought by former management employees, and have handled two arbitrations at WBAI. Three cases are still pending including one at KPFA. Our insurance deductible for each case is $125k — more than 2 employees’ salaries and benefits for one year at KPFA.

    In every case, Jackson Lewis has saved us money by working at reduced rates and handling matters efficiently while looking for reasonable early settlements. In addition, they recently agreed to a retainer for 4 hours/month at greatly reduced rates to assist us with non-litigation matters. The amount of litigation around Pacifica is a disgrace that comes from years of extremely destructive factionalism.

    It’s up to the Pacifica National Board, but I have advised them that terminating Jackson Lewis would be reckless and expensive. Changing lawyers in mid-litigation is dangerous. The stations would have to pay new lawyers to get up to speed. Our insurance company may penalize us for it. They have done an exemplary job. And they are NOT engaged in “union busting” for Pacifica.

    Concerning Other Recent “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” Charges — Context Matters

    Ten years ago, through extraordinary efforts by Pacifica’s listeners, Pacifica was saved from a “corporatizing” board of directors. Their intent was to “NPR-ize” Pacifica and tone down its more radical programming.

    When the new board of directors took over in January 2002 Pacifica was bankrupt. The former Executive Director had drained all five stations’ bank accounts — including about $1.4 million from KPFA — to pay lawyers, PR firms & private investigators to fight the “Free Pacifica” movement. Pacifica was over $4 million in debt and had no cash.

    Through the extraordinary generosity of our listeners, Pacifica recovered and paid off its outside creditors between 2002-2005.

    For the first few years there was an air of excitement & victory that enlivened Pacifica. New programs were brought to the air. Elected local and national boards and program councils including listeners were established for the first time. But for some these were unsettling intrusions.

    The tide turned around 2006-2007. Faction fighting at all five stations took its toll. The spirit of collaboration and openness faded and programming became stagnant. Media activism on the internet began to displace Pacifica, as we were not keeping pace with innovations.

    Pacifica’s overall listener support dropped 23% — from $13.8 million for fiscal year ending (FYE) September 30, 2006 to $10.6 million for FYE 2010. KPFA’s listener support dropped 27% — from $4.0 million for FYE 2005 to $2.9 million FYE 2010.

    KPFA, WBAI and WPFW have been running seriously in the red. KPFA lost $1.5 million in the four years from FYE 2007 through FYE 2010, while Pacifica as a whole lost $5.5 million. Stations have met their payrolls by not paying their share of network-wide expenses (Central Services) — for Democracy Now!, the Pacifica Radio Archives, our insurance, our auditors, etc. Stations have also used the National Office as a “bank” to advance sums for their expenses — health premiums, legal expenses, pension fund contributions, etc. As a result, Pacifica national is carrying almost $3.4 million in accounts receivable from the stations, and $1.3 million in debts to outside creditors. This cannot continue.

    If KPFA and Pacifica are to survive, then people must work together to solve our problems. KPFA’s programming must be revitalized. I’m proud of the work this past year of many people at KPFA in extremely difficult circumstances — especially the volunteers at the “Morning Mix” and the interim Manager and Program Director, Andrew Phillips & Carrie Core. They are bringing in new voices and perspectives and building new audiences for KPFA.

    But at the same time “KPFAWorker/SaveKPFA” is driving away listeners and donors with their constant negative campaign. Many listeners are sick of it and tuning us out and finding more positive things to support. A media revolution is underway. The Occupy Movement is demanding and creating it. KPFA & Pacifica can either open our doors and be a hub for it, or sink in our own mire.

    I do believe regeneration is possible. I call on everyone to put down their swords and find ways to solve our problems together.

    ###

  • Oh, so now the story from Pacifica’s chief defenders is that it was “forced” to hire Jackson Lewis to fight those $20/hr KPFA workers whom it has been harassing and intimidating. Had to hire them even *before* the insurance deductible kicked in, and had to put them on a retainer too.

    As we have said elsewhere, it is well-documented that Pacifica is using Jackson Lewis on at least four cases that are not under the control of Pacifica’s insurance carrier—in other words, Pacifica has chosen to use the firm, not had the firm imposed on it.

    We also understand that Pacifica recently put Jackson Lewis on a general retainer for labor and employment issues, which Ms. Engelhardt (finally!) confirms above. She, as the director of Pacifica, apparently has no problems with choosing to hire the nation’s #1 union-busting law firm.

    That adds to the $120,000 at KPFA alone that has been spent on such firms just this past year. Much more has been spent network-wide. These are *listener* dollars, spent on union-busters. If you have all those other bills, Ms. Engelhardt, why are you hiring $400/hr lawyers to undermine your staff’s labor rights?

    In any case, what does it matter whether it was Pacifica’s insurance carrier that initially may have played a role in hiring Jackson Lewis? Pacifica has repeatedly chosen to expand its use of the nation’s top union-busting firm. It’s a gross misuse of listener dollars and a threat to Pacifica’s unions.

    Ms. Engelhardt also says KPFAWorker.org’s “most recent blast is that Pacifica’s hiring the Jackson Lewis law firm is ‘a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers.'” No, that’s not our blast, Arlene, that’s a quote from the entire unionized KPFA staff — they voted on the matter and their union stewards sent you and every member of the elected Pacifica board a letter with those words in them, and supporting evidence, demanding that you “unhire” the union-busters you had just hired or they would go public with the information.

    None of you even bothered to respond. Not surprising, since you’ve been misappropriating your workers’ own retirement contributions and disciplining those who report the issues that face the network. (See KPFAWorker.org for details.)

    The claims about KPFA’s unionized staff above are complete mythology, perpetrated by the same crew that has tried to take over Pacifica and hired union-busters. For a more accurate account of the history of KPFA’s unions, see http://www.kpfaworker.org/kpfa-labor-history.

    And, just so readers know, the person above is posting deceptively as “KPFA Worker” using our name and email address. It is probably the same person who has squatted several internet sites that mimic KPFAWorker and SaveKPFA.

    The real KPFA Worker is a coalition of unpaid and paid staff, along with union and community supporters. We invite you to visit us at http://www.KPFAWorker.org to sign up for our newsletter, or send a message of solidarity.

    We especially invite you to read the posts on our site and at SaveKPFA and make up your own mind. The evidence against Pacifica’s current managers, including Ms. Engelhardt and Ms. Rosenberg, who is facing a listener recall, is clear: they have been severely mismanaging the network and gutting the flagship station, KPFA, for some time. We hope you’ll make a commitment to stop them.

  • Ann Garrison

    CWA, not Pacifica, has a shameful record on workers’ rights at KPFA, where only 20% of the staff are paid and unionized, and 80% are not, without plausible justification, and with a deleterious impact on KPFA’s working environment and broadcast content.

    This is the kind of fight that alienates most of the working class from unions, who ask, “What’s this got to do with us?” CWA shows no interest in addressing the fact that 80% of KPFA workers are unpaid, or that many put in long hours nevertheless.

    Neither CWA nor the paid staff were in the least concerned when Weekend News tech Kellia Ramares had a massive heart attack, without health benefits, during one of the KPFA Weekend Newscasts. Kellia had worked at KPFA as a tech for years, but previous management, which was preferred by the CWA unionized staff, had never let her hours rise to 20, at which point they would have been obliged to include her in the union and pay her health benefits.

    KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest looked through the window of the room where he was broadcasting Sunday News and saw Kellia passing out on the Board. He stopped broadcasting, switched some music on, and rushed her to the hospital. After that she was tormented for years by bills screaming, “YOU OWE US $50,000.”

    Kellia finally quit after a previous KPFA Interim Manager, one of the last supported by CWA unionized staff, decided to cut her hours by another two or three to save $40 to $60 a week, before the layoffs of CWA staff that has CWA screaming, without a peep from CWA or the CWA unionized staff.

    Have CWA Vice President Jim Weltkamp or any other CWA brass ever even heard this story? I’m not going to claim that I know, but I very much doubt it. Would they care? I very much doubt that too. So long as her hours were kept below 20, Kellia didn’t qualify for health benefits or union representation, so why should they give a damn about her? Their concern is neither the working class, nor KPFA; it’s CWA and its dues paying members.

    I was a 20-year listener-subscriber to KPFA, and the Pacifica Network, before I ever contributed any content myself, to the Weekend News, sometimes to Flashpoints and the Project Censored show, and, as co-producer/host on AfrobeatRadio, a weekly show on one of KPFA’s Pacifica sister stations, WBAI-N.Y.C. I do not feel that current management is attacking me, as a longtime listener-subscriber, or as a KPFA/Pacifica worker.

    I’ve asked Luke Thomas to publish a response to this which I’m sure more high profile KPFA programmers than myself, including Flashpoints’ producer/hosts Dennis Bernstein and Miguel Molina, Morning Mix and Hard Knock producer JR Valrey, and Project Censored Show producer/hosts Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, and Project Censored labor reporter Steve Zeltzer, and Pushing Limits producer Adrienne Lauby will help write and sign.

    I rarely presume to speak for other people but, having attended Wednesday’s KPFA staff meeting, I don’t hesitate. These programmers’ concerns are not all identical to mine, and Dennis and Miguel are actually paid and represented by CWA, but I’m quite sure I know how they feel about this, and that, like me, they would ask you NOT to sign this petition.

  • Ann Garrison

    I’d like to ask that everyone participating in this conversation use their real names, including “KPFA Worker” and “Real KPFA Worker.”

  • I’m sorry Ms. Garrison, but not possible on that front. I don’t want to lose my job and the CWA Local 9415 has a track record of getting rid of whoever questions their power at KPFA.. Ask Nora Barrows-Friedman.

    The union at KPFA is a joke. It sat in meetings advocating for Dennis Bernstein and Davey D to be booted off the schedule to protect a handful of “favored ones” who were further down the seniority chart.

    WHAT kind of a union local pressures management to violate the seniority provisions in their own contract? That’s not a bargaining unit, it is a mafia.

    Davey D is on their air today (and practicing one of the more ethical and pathbreaking journalistic practices around) because Pacifica stood up to the CWA.

    That’s the facts.

  • Adrienne Lauby

    The Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO) voted this statement in it’s December 2012 meeting: The KPFA Worker site does not represent the Unpaid Staff Organization at KPFA.

    Most of the staff at KPFA work without union representation or wages. I’ve been there for 8 years with Pushing Limits, the disability program. I believe, KPFA Worker only represents a few among the staff. And, like many unpaid staff, I do not stand behind many of their statements. And I want them to identify themselves by name.

    I’m limiting myself to a couple of points here. Many people talk about the swamp of dissension at KPFA. If you read the comments before mine, you can get a taste of it. . .

    I don’t agree with everything Pacifica says and does. But anyone reading Arlene Englehardt’s comment can see that the network as a whole needs a unified effort to preserve it. The constant back-biting, politicking and complaining in public undermines the only progressive network in the U.S. It does not serve workers, the working class, or the 99% who are rising up to turn this society around.

  • First off, it is stunning to see Pacifica’s Executive Director confirm, in writing that Pacifica now has Jackson-Lewis on a general retainer, and is using it in arbitrations.

    Second, it is unfortunate that Arlene Engelhardt takes no personal responsibility for the acrimony or the litigation.

    Pacifica faced arbitrations because she fired staff at KPFA out of seniority order (that’s why Brian Edwards-Tiekert got his job back, with backpay).

    It faced NLRB complaints because Pacifica gagged its workers from discussing what was happening on the air–something that might be legally-defensible, but runs contrary to Pacifica’s very mission statement.

    Pacifica faced grievances — as does any unionized employer — because of legitimate concerns about working conditions. But Arlene Engelhardt is the first manager in Pacifica who has rejected every grievance out of hand, instead of trying to work them out with our union reps. When we go to the NLRB, it is because Pacifica won’t resolve routine disputes through the normal process.

    And Pacifica faces at least one lawsuit because of how badly Engelhardt handled the departure of an employee who had already volunteered to take a severance package — trying to renege on the terms of that package, refusing to deal with her concerns about a co-worker’s harrassing conduct, etc.

    The fact is, Pacifica’s facing a high level of legal activity because Engelhardt is a terrible manager who doesn’t know how to deal with workers, and doesn’t know how to deal with unions. And her only solution to mounting legal activity is to hire a union-busting law firm — not deal with the root causes of the suits.

    Also, a little fact checking on the assertions by Eric Brooks and Ann Garrison: the reason CWA can’t represent unpaid staff at KPFA is because the NLRB has ruled (in a case that came from Pacifica station WBAI in New York) that it’s illegal to include volunteers in a collective bargaining unit.

    Everyone at the station knows this; anyone attacking KPFA’s union on this front is just spreading lies and innuendo for the sake of dividing our workers.

    Our union has never sat in any room advocating for the removal of any worker. This is a flat-out lie — one designed, again, to divide workers.

  • Real name withheld

    Using real names if you work at KPFA is dangerous … Not because Pacifica will fire you, but the “ruling clique” from CWA threaten peoples’ jobs if they speak out publicly against the “KPFAWorker” party line. If they win this fight the people on their “hit list” will be gone.

    But, perhaps KPFA Worker can explain why, if they’re so concerned about KPFA’s legal expenses, they and their friends keep suing the station? Most recent being Esther Manilla — claiming she didn’t accept the voluntary severance package offered to all KPFA staff when we all heard her yell at Arlene Engelhardt of KPFA’s airwaves that she had accepted it?

  • Esther Manilla’s sad and ridiculous tale – which can be found in public at the domainweb site for Alameda County Superior Court – begins in 2004 when then Los Angeles-based Esther was working at Pacifica station KPFK and claimed lesbian sexual harassment from the station’s general manager. A year later, after transferring to the Berkeley station, Esther claims heterosexual sexual harassment from then-Berkeley general manager. A few years later, Esther claims her work environment is unsafe because an African-American member of the unpaid staff yelled at her and asked her to leave the control room during his program. Ms. Manilla filed a union grievance stating that she had disturbed dreams about the death of her beloved dog due to emotional trauma sustained during the altercation. Even the CWA refused to pursue this grievance. This trauma also impacted Ms. Manilla when she erroneously accepted a severance package from Pacifica and cashed her first severance check before then stating that she had erroneously quit her job a month earlier and wished to be restored to it.

    Your listener dollars at work.

  • “Our union has never sat in any room advocating for the removal of any worker. This is a flat-out lie — one designed, again, to divide workers”

    You wish it was a lie. But it is not. It is exactly what the union did. Target Bernstein and Davey D out of seniority order. “The union doesn’t object”. Fact.

    Ask Nora Barrows-Friedman how the local threw her to the wolves after she was targeted out of seniority order.

    That’s why people won’t use their names. The union local is corrupt and stinks to high heaven.

    Engelhardt, Phillips, Core, Rosenberg etc and many other before them are standing up to a reign of terror and demanding something better for everyone involved with KPFA and Pacifica. Thank God.

  • unpaid programmer

    You have got to be kidding. Besides all the other phony “crimes,” you are blaming a heart attack on CWA, the rank and file union that represents what’s left of KPFA’s paid workers? Huh? What planet are you on?

    Kellia’s hours were cut, just like many other people’s hours were cut. She was not targeted in any way, shape or form. I’m an unpaid programmer, and I want to say that EVERYONE at KPFA works their butts off — paid or unpaid. Most don’t use their real names on anything, because they’ve seen these internet attack ad naseum and don’t want to be targets.

    Most of the unpaid have the option of not showing up if they have another commitment, or they are learning how to do radio and aren’t on all the time. The paid staff don’t have that option, which is why they are paid. They are needed to do core programs, raise money, do training, tech and administrative work.

    Neither was Nora “thrown to the wolves” by the union. She had her hours cut to 20 because her coworker, Dennis Bernstein, would not share the hours cuts which everyone else at KPFA shared.

    Most of us care about and support each other at KPFA. You can’t miss the secular “altar” that greats you in the lobby, where comrades who have passed are remembered. The vast majority of we unpaid staff also support our co-workers who happen to be paid. Good for them that they have union representation! They certainly need it with an employer like Pacifica.

    It is not their fault that in a previous fit of union-busting, Pacifica pushed a case all the way to the NLRB to have the unpaid staff thrown out of the bargaining unit. (See KPFAWorker’s labor history for a link to the case.) Anyone who has half a mind knows the union is not the enemy.

    Something to keep in mind as you read these endless internet postings attacking KPFA’s staff. There is a handful of people at KPFA who are virulently anti-union, willing to make things up or blame someone’s heart attack on the union or its members or supporters. A couple of them are paid, a handful are unpaid, and frankly, a few of them are simply mentally unbalanced. That’s the bottom line. Very sad.

  • Real name withheld

    A good question is: “Why is CWA at war against KPFA/Pacifica?” It’s not the other way around. Why did they pump up the staff to an unsustainable level while the station lost $1.5 million between 2007-2010? That was while the old stale “Morning Show” was on the air. Why, when the station ran through all its reserves and couldn’t meet its payroll, did CWA refuse to negotiate reasonably over layoffs? Why are they trying to take down this venerable community resource? Who is behind this and who benefits from it? If CWA gets its way, KPFA and Pacifica will be bankrupt and off the air. Who will get the broadcast licenses? Is anyone asking CWA what their real intention is here? All this sqwaking about “union busting” is nonsense. KPFA/Pacifica management has been extremely reasonable. They probably needed to layoff more staff in order for the station to recover … especially since CWA wasted so much listener money filing ridiculous grievances that the NLRB ruled, time and again, were “without merit.” So, what is CWA getting out of this? Cui bono?

  • Rick

    I am in such grief. I have been a listening to KPFA when I lived in San Francisco 1978-1996, and then an online listener every day since I moved to Boston in 1996. It is such as important part of my life. This group of individuals around Arlene Englehardt that have solidified power seem to want to take the radical edge away that KPFA is built upon, and then decapitate it and turn it into something liberal or even worse, something that none of us can even see the nightmare coming on (the dystopian future can’t be seen) but the future looks grim (no ballots to remove even sent out?) if her clicque continues their dirty work.

  • Rick, if Engelhardt does not stay at the helm of Pacifica, you will find much to be grim about. It’s not about recalling people to prop up a self-serving faction, it’s about doing what is necessary to save an organization.

    KPFA lost 1.2 million dollars in 2 years and refused to trim expenses, catapulting it into a state of emergency by the Fall of 2010.

    Instead of facing up to the fiscal crisis like adults, the kpfaworker/save kpfa faction continues to bleed funds for frivolous lawsuits, assault the character of the management team and board of directors that saved them from bankruptcy, and petulantly proclaim that no programming changes are needed at KPFA – when a six-year old child can tell that if 25% of the subscribers wander off (as happened at KPFA between 2006-2009 PRECIPITATING the financial crisis), you are doing something very wrong.

    Engelhardt deserves credit for taking a ridiculous amount of abuse from this infantile crew and doing what is necessary to rescue a vitally important and somewhat troubled network.

  • Real name withheld

    Rick — Do you listen to the Morning Mix? Not radical enough for you? Davey D? JR Valrey? Project Censored? Andres Soto? Dennis Bernstein? It’s a lot more radical than the old Morning Show was. It’s the CWA 9415 “gatekeepers” at KPFA who have kept many “radicals” off the air for the past decade … mainly fronting for “liberal Democrats”, but not allowing third party perspectives, radical Black and Latino perspectives, 9/11 inquiry perspectives, and much more, onto KPFA’s airwaves if they could prevent it. And they definitely could and did prevent it in the 7-9 am drive time until last year.