While Pacifica continues to stall the listener-initiated recall process, KPFA’s interim general manager is pouring out incorrect and highly-partisan material onto KPFA’s own subscriber email list, in violation of the network’s fair election rules.
On December 26, 2011, Andrew Leslie Phillips, who was appointed by Pacifica over the objections of local board members, prefaced his end-of-year fund pitch with a rant blaming the station’s union workers, falsely, for $200,000 in costs spent “defending [KPFA] from grievances.”
In response to KPFA union steward Philip Maldari, Phillips agreed to post a correction in his next message which arrived in members email on January 15, 2012. But the so called “correction” was part of a long message in which Phillips threw himself into the middle of the on-going recall election, in spite of the fact that as he himself noted, the Pacifica by-laws require him to remain neutral. Phillips received responses to his most recent message from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a number of KPFA staff members, and from the majority of the Local Station Board.
“Your email is inaccurate and offensive,” wrote Christina Huggins of CWA 9415 which represents KPFA’s unionized staff. “You continue to paint yourself and fellow KPFA management as ‘victims’ of our Union. There you were, just standing around trying to ‘do good’ and the Union attacked you. Not so. Any actions taken by our Union have to do with our legal and moral obligation to represent our members. We respond to your actions, not the other way around.” (Read her entire letter here.)
CWA is demanding a public retraction on behalf of KPFA’s workers. Huggins added, “We have never had such a contentious relationship with KPFA management in the entire history of representing the paid staff–and it is not the Union representatives who have changed.” KPFA has spent over $80,000 on anti-union lawyers, a fact that has outraged listeners.
“It’s this attitude by the interim general manager that led to the local board’s overwhelming vote of ‘no confidence’ in him,” said one KPFA staffer. “Andrew has demonstrated an anti-union bias from the day he stepped through the station’s doors, and he’s spent most of his time trying to create divisions between the unpaid and paid staff.” Phillips has a history of inappropriate behavior toward KPFA’s staff.
KPFA’s local elected board members are also speaking out. Chair Margy Wilkinson, writing on behalf of the board majority, said Phillips’ message “repeats, almost word-for-word, the campaign propaganda of the anti-recall campaign.” Calling his words “a thinly-veiled partisan intervention in an election that you yourself said station management is supposed to stay out of,” Wilkinson demanded equal access to KPFA’s email list for a rebuttal. (Read entire letter here.)
It is illegal under Pacifica’s bylaws to use station resources to influence elections. “It also shows very poor judgment from one of the people we’re supposed to look to heal KPFA,” said another KPFA worker.
Still no word from Pacifica on mailing the ballots to listener-members in the recall vote on board member Tracy Rosenberg. Under the network’s election rules, those ballots should have been mailed between December 15-30.