Last month, workers around the Pacifica network, including KPFA, deposited their paychecks — and were shocked to have them bounce. KPFA had sufficient funds to cover its payroll, but Pacifica pools the payroll money of its five stations, and did not warn KPFA that whoever deposited their checks last would end up with a bounced check fine.
Stewards from Communications Workers of America Local 9415, which represents KPFA’s union workers, wrote a letter to Pacifica’s Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams reminding them that bouncing paychecks is a crime. (Read entire letter here.)
“We have advised the workers who draw pay at KPFA to report Pacifica to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement should any of their paychecks bounce,” wrote Antonio Ortiz, Sasha Lilley, and Philip Maldari. “This will trigger automatic financial penalties for Pacifica, and may result in criminal charges against Pacifica employees responsible for bouncing paychecks.” Pacifica has still not responded to their email.
The check bouncing follows a pension scandal late last year in which Pacifica illegally dipped into the 403(b) retirement accounts of its workers at KPFA and across the network. After KPFA’s union reported Pacifica to the Department of Labor, Pacifica’s Engelhardt stated that workers would be paid interest on the money that it had withheld from them and that payments would be made in a timely manner.
However, KPFA’s union has found that Pacifica continues to illegally withhold the contributions of its workers, even following Engelhardt’s public statement. In the month of January, Pacifica withdrew payments from the salaries of its workers, but did not deposit them into their 403(b) accounts.
Pacifica management appears blithely indifferent to breaking the law, whether its KPFA’s union contract or state and federal laws regulating workplace pay and retirement accounts. Despite hiring high price law firms to attempt to clean up it messes, Pacifica continues to play fast and loose with the rights of its workers.
Support KPFA’s workers during Winter Fund Drive!
KPFA is in the midst of its Winter Fund Drive. While Pacifica and KPFA management continue to ignore the will of listeners in running the station, it’s important that those who care about the station keep supporting it financially. Management and its supporters like Pacifica treasurer Tracy Rosenberg appear intent on defunding the station by eliminating the programs that raise the most money, so as to shrink the number of union workers at KPFA. Hence, it’s crucial that listeners continue to support the station financially.
Donating $25 or more makes you eligible to vote in this autumn’s elections for the Local Station Board. You can donate online here.
READ ABOUT KPFA’s workers — both paid and unpaid — and their history of union organizing here. You can also read several leaflets about the recent struggle to retain local control at KPFA.