Pacifica spends listeners’ dollars on corporate management law firm

Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt told Berkeley’s Labor Commission last Wednesday that she had retained the San Francisco-based law firm Folger Levin to represent Pacifica in disputes with CWA Local 9415, the union representing KPFA’s paid workers.

On Thursday, Pacifica told KPFA’s union that even routine discussions about workers’ seniority rights would have to happen through its new attorneys.

The new law firm practices management-side employment law, and its attorneys have represented some of California’s largest hotel chains during conflicts with their workers. It also represents (among others) Northern California Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit that owns public radio giant KQED. The firm’s website says that its services include: “union organizing campaigns, contract negotiations, strike planning, grievances and arbitrations, union decertification petitions, and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.”

Translation: stopping unions from forming, stopping them from getting a good deal, breaking their strikes, blocking their grievances, getting rid of them, and getting away with it.

Folger Levin’s old firm – Folger, Levin, & Kahn, also represented polluters in U.S. vs. Stringfellow — one of the largest environmental lawsuits in U.S. history.

The amount Pacifica “saved” by laying off Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert totals roughly $80,000 over the course of one year. So far, Pacifica has had more than $5,000 worth of sustainer subscriptions canceled, has called off two days of fund raising that were budgeted to bring in $65,000, and put this union-busting law firm on retainer for who knows how much more. The obvious question: How is this a better use of KPFA listeners’ money than leaving the Morning Show intact?

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