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KPFA's Union Files Unfair Labor Practices Charge with NLRB
Workers Allege Bad-Faith Negotiations as Pacifica Prepares to Cut a Quarter of Staff
BERKELEY, Calif. - November 8 - The union at America’s first listener-sponsored radio station, KPFA 94.1 FM, has filed an Unfair Labor Practices charge against KPFA's parent organization, the Pacifica Foundation. Communications Workers of America Local 9415 charges Pacifica with violating its obligation to bargain in good faith with the union. Pacifica is poised to cut roughly a quarter of the station's union workers. KPFA has already cut nearly a fifth of its workforce over the past year.
According to the charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, Pacifica "has failed and refused to comply with its obligation to meet and bargain with the Union over financial alternatives to employee layoffs prior to implementing any such layoffs." Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, has rejected all proposed alternative cost-savings measures that have won the backing of the union, KPFA’s Local Station Board, and KPFA management—and failed to propose any alternatives of her own.
The Unfair Labor Practices charge also states that the Pacifica Foundation has violated KPFA's contract with its union workers by allowing three members of the Pacifica National Board to insert themselves into the layoff process. Those board members have drawn up a name-by-name list of employees they would like laid off. The Alameda Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the San Francisco Labor Council have both condemned Pacifica for its “anti-union actions.”
"Pacifica is obligated to bargain with KPFA's union in good faith," says CWA Local 9415 Executive Vice President Christina Huggins, who filed the charge with the NLRB on Friday and hand delivered a copy to the Pacifica National Office. "They have not done that. Instead, they've willfully ignored KPFA's union contract, have let board members draw up a list of staff to lay off who they don't like, and are violating labor law."
“They've rejected even the most straightforward cost-saving measures we proposed—like helping some of our workers voluntarily move from KPFA’s regular health care plan to Medicare," says Brian Edwards-Tiekert, co-host of KPFA's Morning Show, and a member of the union bargaining committee that tried to negotiate alternatives to layoffs. "They don't even seem interested in preventing layoffs."
The Pacifica Radio network is an independent, non-profit organization that operates five radio stations: KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, WBAI in New York City, KPFT in Houston, and WPFW in Washington, D.C. In 1999, a struggle between KPFA and Pacifica's National Office became a national and international news story and 10,000 people marched through the streets of Berkeley to save their station.
For more information about the labor conflict at KPFA, go to http://www.KPFAworker.org.
Too see the full charge that CWA filed with the National Labor Relations Board, go to http://kpfaworker.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/kpfas-union-files-unfair-labor-practices-charge-with-the-nlrb/