KPFA workers and listeners rally against union busting firm

On Wednesday, April 18, listeners joined KPFA’s paid and unpaid staff for a spirited picket of the station’s parent organization, Pacifica Radio, to raise their voices against the network’s hiring of infamous anti-union law firm, Jackson Lewis.

The firm was hired on a retainer for “general labor and employment issues” for the Pacifica network at the urging of executive director Arlene Engelhardt. The AFL-CIO calls the firm the nation’s “number one union-buster.”

Unpaid staffer Tina Bachemin with CWA steward Antonio Ortiz.

Tina Bachemin, KPFA news reporter and unpaid staff member, was one of many unpaid staff members at the picket, and addressed the picketers with a statement of solidarity.  “I see this issue as part of the bitter struggle that’s going on now across America to smash unionism and wage war against workers,” she told the crowd.  “Whether it’s an attempt to take away collective bargaining rights of the public workers in Wisconsin or an attempt to block SEIU janitors and maids from organizing in San Francisco hotels, this issue of whether a law firm with a reputation for union busting should represent Pacifica is part of that same struggle.”

KPFA's Luis Medina.

Over 2000 listeners and staff have signed a petition telling Pacifica to ditch Jackson Lewis. KPFA’s Local Station Board has passed a resolution unanimously calling on Pacifica to drop the firm. Sister station KPFK’s Local Station Board in Los Angeles soon followed with its own resolution.

Graphic donated by Lew Friedman.

Other speakers included labor journalist Steve Early, KPFA news staffer and CWA member Brian Edwards-Tiekert, and CWA District 9 organizer Libby Sayre. Members from a range of unions turned out to support KPFA’s paid staff, including from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW),  the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, (ILWU), the National Union of Health Care Workers (NUHW), the Pacific Media Workers Guild/CWA, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE).

KPFA’s paid workers are represented by Communications Workers of America Local 9415. Find more photos of the picket here. The Pacifica Evening News covered the picket, and you can hear that story 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.

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