Beleaguered KPFK Workers Need Support in Election; Union Member Says, “Vote UCR”

BY ANTHONY FESTvote-661888_1280

NOVEMBER 30, 2015: KPFA subscribers have five more days to vote in the election for KPFA’s governing body, the Local Station Board.
 

Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is hearing multiple grievances from unionized staff members at KPFA’s Southern California sister station KPFK, grievances prompted by the actions of KPFK’s recently-appointed manager. The KPFK workers say management has violated their union contract, cut their hours, and failed to pay thousands of dollars in pension contributions and union dues.

Is there a connection?
Indeed there is, and KPFA voters should take heed:
Leslie Radford, the KPFK general manager responsible for the workers’ grievances and the widespread listener complaints, was appointed by none other than KPFA board member Margy Wilkinson. And Wilkinson is now running for re-election to the KPFA board.

What’s Going On?
KPFA and KPFK are two members of the five-station Pacifica Foundation network. Each of the five stations elects a Local Station Board; then the five local boards each send four members to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), the legal “board of directors” of Pacifica. The network and its stations are supposed to be overseen by a full-time Executive Director, hired by the PNB, but the current PNB seems unable to keep an ED on the job; two have departed after short stints in the post. In the absence of an ED, the Chair of the PNB is acting ED. It was in that role that PNB Chair Margy Wilkinson appointed Radford as manager of KPFK this past June. Incredibly, Wilkinson installed Radford in the KPFK job one day before a newly-hired ED began work. Evidently, Wilkinson didn’t want to leave the hiring of a station manager in the hands of someone with actual radio experience. And Radford’s apparent qualification for the general-manager job was being a member of the KPFK board faction that’s allied with Wilkinson’s “Save KPFA.”

In only four months on the job, Radford has so alienated KPFK workers and listeners that a no-confidence petition on Change.org has garnered 250 signatures. The signatories include listeners, present and former KPFK staff, former KPFA staff members Esther Manilla and John Hamilton, and Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar, whose program is heard on both stations. The no-confidence statement cites labor-contract violations, fundraising blunders, “disastrous programming decisions,” and other problems. It concludes, “ We believe Radford is a liability to KPFK and will lead the station to bankruptcy and/or numerous lawsuits until KPFK is no more.”
 
Some of the KPFK staff members have also created a Facebook page to publicize their issues; Facebook users can find it here.

Throw the Bum(s) Out?
Under Pacifica’s bylaws, the KPFK LSB could begin the process of firing Radford, although the ultimate authority is the Pacifica National Board. This month’s election could swing the balance of power on the local boards and thus the National Board. Therefore, KPFA voters should consider this advice from long-time KPFK staffer and union member Ali Lexa:

As a current SAG-AFTRA member, I can tell you the union busting at KPFK going on right now is real, and Margy Wilkinson is no friend of our union. If we don’t get the Pacifica National Board into better hands immediately, our station in LA which is the biggest non-commercial radio signal west of the Mississippi River and the most important free speech voice in Southern California, is done. So please vote UCR. It’s the pro-labor vote.

United-for-Community-Radio (UCR) is supporting a well-qualified team of nine candidates for the nine KPFA LSB seats to be filled by KPFA subscriber votes. The UCR team includes a union leader for home care workers (Marilla Argüelles), and a former organizer and shop steward (Don Macleay); they’re part of a diverse group of individuals advocating for peace and social justice.
 

To support both KPFA and KPFK, please vote for the nine UCR candidates! To be sure of meeting the voting deadline of Friday, December 4, KPFA subscribers should vote online using the access codes that came with their paper ballots.

Please follow and like us:

Pacifica National Board Already Decided — Bequest Should Have Been Sent to Pacifica!

By:  UCR Candidate Sharon Adams

Our opponents have been claiming that United For Community Radio “cost KPFA $400,000“, implying that KPFA was actually entitled to a $400,000 bequest.  Of course, that is the exact issue — KPFA was not entitled to the $400,000 bequest — the Pacifica Foundation was entitled to this bequest.  Our opponents inappropriately decided, WITHOUT CONSULTING PACIFICA, that this bequest was intended solely for KPFA.  The reason we know that KPFA was not entitled to the $400,000 bequest is because the Pacifica National Board (PNB) has determined that the bequest was actually supposed to go to Pacifica.
Bequest_Check

The PNB’s decision is supported by the evidence.  First and foremost, both the bequest and the check were specifically made out to “Pacifica Foundation Radio”.  There was no mention of KPFA in the bequest documents.

Pacifica LogoAnd, even assuming there was ambiguity in the identification of Pacifica Foundation Radio, the proper response would have been to contact the PNB to mutually discuss and decide how to deal with the bequest.  It was our opponents failure to ask Pacifica that is at the heart of this matter.   To the extent that our opponents felt there *was* ambiguity, they should have checked with the Pacifica National Board.

Interim Executive Director (and SaveKPFA candidate) Margy Wilkinson later apologized for this failure to disclose — after the fact and when the bequest funds were already comfortably residing in the KPFA bank account.  It really would not have been that difficult to send this information to Pacifica prior to depositing the check in the KPFA bank account.

FBOKPFA

~Screen shot of kpfa.org website

As the image above shows, it is quite easy to make a bequest that is for KPFA, and the KPFA website provides clear instructions on how to do this.  Of course, Pacifica must be mentioned in the bequest instructions because Pacifica is the parent organization of KPFA.  Significantly, the KPFA website makes clear that the phrase “for the benefit of KPFA” or “fbo KPFA” must be added.  This is not difficult to do, and is standard operating procedure for attorneys working in estate planning who are trained to make clear and unambiguous bequests.

Now that our opponents have been exposed, they start the mudslinging, with personal attacks on UCR candidate Janet Kobren who found the documents showing that the bequest was intended for the Pacifica Foundation.  However, Janet Kobren was simply doing her duty as a board member and secretary of the PNB.  This is in stark contrast to other KPFA members on the PNB, Brian Edwards-Tieckert and Margy Wilkinson.  They have shown that they are willing to “Save” KPFA — at the expense of the entire Pacifica network.

United for Community Radio is not into assigning blame.  UCR wants to ensure that the entire Pacifica network remains strong, including KPFA and its sister stations.  UCR’s opponents must stop cannibalizing Pacifica to allegedly “Save” KPFA.

Vote for the entire UCR slate in the KPFA Local Station Board election.

RESCUE KPFA from Save KPFA

gears-820980_640

For another perspective on the bequest, read Frank Sterling’s article here about how We Are All One!
Frank Sterling is KPFA’s Technical Director of First Voice Media program.

 

Please follow and like us:

Union Activists Endorse United for Community Radio

The folks at SaveKPFA seem to say that anyone who opposes their ideas are union busters. Although it’s a knee-jerk response on their part, it’s a serious charge.

Read this for a comprehensive explanation of the union dynamics at KPFA, Historical Analysis: KPFA’s Working Majority Gets Screwed by CWA Job Trust.

Brief Summary:  Both paid and unpaid staff were represented by United Electrical Workers (UE). UEDue to machinations, the paid staff formed a union that excluded the unpaid staff. Now, KPFA has staff that are paid to be at the station, and are represented by a union, and are allowed to participate on the Local Station Board. That is too much control in the hands of too few.

Read recent strong criticism of Save KPFA for union busting at KPFK, our sister station in Los Angeles.

Union Supporters of UCR.  Here’s some of the union stalwarts who have endorsed United for Community Radio:

Jack Heyman, Executive board member International Longshore and Warehouse union Local 10 (retired) and chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee

Mary Prophet, Member – KPFA Community Advisory Board; Steering Committee – US Labor Against the War; Delegate – Alameda County Central Labor Council; Past Chair – California Teacher’s Association Peace & Justice Caucus

Marsha Feinland, former Berkeley Rent Board member, California Teachers’ Association honored union activist

Wendel HarperMichael-David Sasson, Former President, Coalition of University Employees (CUE), Local #3, (now part of IBT #2010)

Ramses Teon Nichols, Vice President of Organizing, SEIU Local 1021, Local Station Board member from the United For Community Radio slate in 2012.

Francis Grinnon,  Communication Workers of America, Local 9415, former Vice-President, Retired Members Council

Laurence Shoup, author, Wall Street’s Think Tank, Rulers and Rebels, and other books, former member, Alameda Central Labor Council

Richard Stone,  Delegate, S.F. Labor Council;  member, Save Mid-town (San Francisco)

Dave Welsh, San Francisco Labor Council delegate; retired letter carrier, longtime executive vice president fo Golden Gate Branch 214 of the Letter Carriers Union;  helped protect union jobs from the privatization effort which was the context of the successful struggle to stop the sale of the Berkeley Post Office.  

Noelle Hanrahan, Director, Prison Radio, former KPFA programmer and union steward

A quick list of our endorsers tells the larger story.  These people are often active in union issues.  They, and the United for Community Radio candidates, know how important vibrant unions are to the crucial progressive issues we work on.

Please follow and like us:

Save KPFA’s “Principles” vs Reality

Click here to see this article in an easy to read table.

By Mara Rivera

Here’s SaveKPFA’s statement of principles 2015, with rebuttals:

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS:  Protect local control. 
 In 2014, Save KPFA led the effort that put KPFA back under the control of locally-hired management for the first time in 5 years — resulting in the recruitment of a talented General Manager, and a permanent Program Director hired by, and accountable to, KPFA’s elected local board.

4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY:  Control the Station.  The Executive Director of Pacifica and sometimes the Pacifica National Board make the final decision on KPFA’s General Manager hires, out of a pool chosen by the Local Station Board (see next answer).  Pacifica is the parent organization of the 5 stations, holds the license and provides oversight.  The paid staff, Save KPFA, and its previous incarnations like Concerned Listeners, have driven out most of KPFA’s General Managers for not agreeing with them 100%.

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS: Ensure high-quality, progressive programming
. In 2010, Save KPFA campaigned to reverse Pacifica’s cancellation of KPFA’s most listened-to local program, The Morning Show;in 2012, we supported the launch of UpFront, restoring local programming to KPFA’s morning lineup.


4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY: 
Protect Unsustainable Budgets.  In 2010 Pacifica’s Executive Director had to step in because Concerned Listeners / Save KPFA were bankrupting the station by not cutting paid staff hours as all the 5 stations had been ordered to do 2-3 years before. Shortfalls in fundraising made these cuts necessary and obvious. Because most station expenses are fixed, wages are the only significant place to balance the budget. The Morning Show staff members were low on the seniority list and, according to the union contract, had to be laid off first. Save KPFA created a huge fuss on the airwaves, in e-mails and in complaints to the National Labor Relations Board. They lied to the listeners that the layoffs were politically motivated and deceived hundreds of listeners into hating Pacifica and opposing the layoffs.
When paid staff refused to replace the laid-off Morning Show workers, volunteers stepped up to do the programming, creating the Morning Mix, much of it focused on local matters. Recently, the Save KPFA forces displaced these volunteers with a crony.

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS:   Support staff and volunteers.  Save KPFA led the successful fight to reverse Pacifica’s 2011 hiring of the nation’s top union-busting law firm; Save KPFA members have also raised money to update aging equipment in KPFA’s studios, and established a training fund for volunteer staff in KPFA’s budget.

4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY: 
Raise False Claims – Undercut Unpaid Staff.  That firm was hired for its expertise dealing with a previous harassment lawsuit, not any labor issue. We run on listener support, not faction-related funding of anyone’s favorites. No individual faction can claim credit for fund drive totals. Save KPFA does not value volunteers and trainees (unless they’re part of their faction), and pushes “professionalism” (paid staff). One of their most celebrated supporters, Larry Bensky, referred to volunteer programmers as “monkeys.”  Years ago, this group destroyed union coverage for the unpaid staff by switching to CWA, a union which would not represent unpaid staff. The former union United Electrical Workers (UE) had covered both paid and unpaid staff for many years.  Save KPFA later attempted to destroy the Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO), which the volunteer staff organized as a substitute. Most of KPFA’s programs and 70% or more of staff are unpaid volunteers.

wrongway

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS:   Transparency and accountability from Pacifica
.  Save KPFA’s representatives on the Pacifica National Board are part of a new majority that has begun issuing regular financial statements for the first time in nearly three years, dramatically shrunk Pacifica’s deficit (from -$2.8 million in 2013 to a small surplus in the 12 months ending in June 2015), and rationalized (and lowered) the dues that stations like KPFA pay to Pacifica’s national office.

4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY: 
Incompetence and Lack of Accountability.  The statement above is an egregious lie.  The SaveKPFA-dominated station board has allowed the KPFA General Manager whom they got hired and KPFA’s business manager to get away with producing unrealistic income and expense figures for the required yearly budgets. They have not held the business manager accountable for her tardiness in producing necessary audit material for the national office accounting department to complete the FY2013 and FY2014 audits in a timely manner, as required by non-profit corporate law and CPB. This gross incompetence only adds to the potential bankruptcy of KPFA and the Pacifica Network.


Some wonder if it is actually intentional, part of an attempt to grab the station for themselves (see KPFA Foundation argument below). The “three years” were three of their years in the majority on the KPFA board, with their incompetent financial officers and management

On a national level, Pacifica lost 2 million dollars in Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funding because it did not keep up with required record keeping, among other things. This might have contributed to the California State Attorney General doing a documents audit this year (although the AG office is responsible for overseeing non-profits and probably should have done one sooner}. And there is a possibility that our auditors will refuse to renew their contract with Pacifica.


We have discovered that members of the faction have secretly set up a shadow corporation, the “KPFA Foundation”, which they say is to “catch” KPFA in case of bankruptcy – which they are seemingly trying to achieve in any way and as fast as possible!

This is why we urgently need you to vote them out now!

 

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS:   Experiment with new shows; expand into new platforms. Under SaveKPFA leadership, KPFA budgeted for, and carried out, a re-design of its website that makes it more accessible on mobile devices–which is where more and more radio listeners are turning to get their favorite shows.  KPFA has also started using its second signal, KPFB, to pilot 20 hours of programming per week from new, energetic producers. 

4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY:  Dominate the Airwaves.  The website was vastly neglected for years, under Save KPFA’s watch.  Although flashy, the new website is cumbersome to navigate and a memory hog.  Save KPFA disempowered the former democratically-representative Program Council, which once chose new programming and evaluated all programming.  Instead, they choose new programs by hiring their cronies. They have spoken out against and even censored local, radical, youth, Black, and investigative programming, while claiming the Local Station Board has no role in in programming (but see the Bylaws, Section 7, Article 3, Item G* – below). The new programming at KPFB was created by one staff member and the many apprentices and former apprentices who produce programming there.

WHAT SAVE KPFA SAYS:   Reform Pacifica’s Byzantine Governance System.  We believe Pacifica’s acrimonious boards have generated many of its problems. Save KPFA participated in cross-factional dialogue talks this year, and now endorses the Pacifica Unity Pledge, which commits us to participating in a network-wide consensus-building process with the goal of making Pacifica’s governance system simpler, effective, smaller, and calmer. 

4906011803_80a410f20fTHE REALITY:   Calm By Suppression.  The “acrimonious board” meetings are a result of Save KPFA’s blocking of any governance and positive change by the Local Station Boards.  SaveKPFA always votes for a hands-off policy regarding management decisions, claiming the board must not “micro-manage” the General Manager.  Their actions show they believe that boards have no right to govern, only the paid staff, as they have often said.  (The “acrimony” is the slim minority of United for Community Radio board members and allies fighting to strengthen the station, network, and democratic governance. Democratic governance may be imperfect but it’s our only hope for real community programming and a range of real progressive opinions on the air.

——-

*under LSB duties: their role in programming   — From the Pacifica Bylaws, Section 7, Article 3 , Item G

To work with station management to ensure that station programming fulfills the purposes of the Foundation and is responsive to the diverse needs of the listeners (demographic) and communities (geographic) served by the station, and that station policies and procedures for making programming decisions and for program evaluation are working in a fair, collaborative and respectful manner to provide quality programming

(Note: The Save KPFA faction has maintained that the Local Station Board’s main or even sole function is fund raising – which may be true of corporate boards of directors, but not that of a democratically-run Pacifica.)

photo credit: This Way via photopin (license)

Please follow and like us: