KPFA is known as “free speech radio” because it was founded on the notion that open discussion — between activists, listeners and programmers — would be at the heart of its mission. For decades, listeners and staff have shaped KPFA and Pacifica through such open exchange and joint governance.
Now, some in Pacifica want that to end. Under the pretext of “confidentiality,” the network’s bureaucrats have created new, prohibitive “Employee Handbooks” for both paid and unpaid staff that dramatically constrain workers’ ability to post criticism of the network on their personal social media accounts and bar them from speaking to the press.
“It’s shamefully obvious,” said one KPFA staff member, “that Pacifica board majority wants to remove its workers’ voices from the conversation about the network’s future. That’s ridiculous, particularly in a media institution that is jointly governed by listeners and staff.”
“The National Labor Relations Board recently affirmed the right of employees to make critical posts about their employers,” said another. “Pacifica is so out-of-touch that it is attempting to institute a policy that is illegal on its face.” The proposed rules are a continuation of an anti-worker, pro-censorship agenda begun under the reign of former Pacifica executive director Arlene Engelhardt.
Under pressure from national board members affiliated with SaveKPFA, the network sent the draft documents to all paid and unpaid staff, allowing comment through May 28. [UPDATE: the handbooks are on hold pending review by the new board.]