On Monday, April 4, KPFA paid and unpaid staff will picket in front of Pacifica as part of the national day of action to defend unions. The picket will take place from 7:30-8:30 am at 1925 Martin Luther King Jr Way in Berkeley (next door to KPFA).
Pacifica has spent $30,000 to date of KPFA’s money on a corporate management law firm, Folger Levin, which specializes in assisting employers with “union organizing campaigns, contract negotiations, strike planning, grievances and arbitrations, union decertification petitions.” Thanks to Pacifica’s numerous violations of KPFA’s contract — including laying off the Morning Show’s Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert — KPFA’s union has had to file multiple charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
Meanwhile, Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt’s plan to layoff news anchor John Hamilton was averted at the last minute. Five union workers at the station presented a plan to reduce their hours of work time by 22 hours a week and donate them to Hamilton so that he could stay on at no cost to KPFA except for his benefits. In yet another violation of the union contract, Arlene Engelhardt refused to meet with the union to discuss alternatives to Hamilton’s layoff.
On March 30, Hamilton’s final day of work, new interim KPFA general manager Andrew Phillips agreed to the arrangement by Hamilton’s union colleagues. Interim program director Carrie Core, who had been hired by Engelhardt at $10,000 over the amount budgeted for her job, donated back $10,000 to keep Hamilton on. Phillips warned that Hamilton may still lose his job if an arbitrator orders Pacifica to return Morning Show co-host Aimee Allison to KPFA. Engelhardt laid her off in November. Arbitration in Allison’s case is scheduled to start at the end of April.
KPFA’s union maintains that the station has enough money to hire back Allison and keep Hamilton, and that Pacifica has been squandering money on fighting KPFA’s union.