Playing the Union Card--Exposed

by Richard Phelps, former Chair KPFA LSB
October 17th, 2010

The Concerned Listeners/"Save KPFA's" demagogic Playing of the "Union Card" is Fully Exposed! Their claims that their opponents had a hit list of staff to lay off evaporated into the lie that it always was. Their relentless dishonest attacks of union busting and their made out of "whole cloth" attack that their opponents want an "all volunteer" staff was exposed by a roll call vote at yesterday's (Oct 16) LSB meeting.

During the discussion on the new budget Shahram moved to amend the intro language for the budget Resolution to include that it would be implemented according to the union contract. This would mean that layoffs would be done by seniority. Every CL/"Save KPFA" person in attendance voted that amendment down??? Why would they be against that "pro union" sentiment being added to the budget resolution that included the need for some staff reductions? They were trying to protect the jobs of some of their "insider" group. Some would lose their jobs if seniority is followed. So much for union solidarity!

Is this new? No, we have seen it over and over. In the late 1990s this same political strain pushed for a change from a progressive union, UE, to CWA and dumped all the unpaid staff from the union roles. There have been many attacks on union members by CL management allies and the union has consistently done nothing. Ask anyone of the FlashPoints folks how much union support they get. The latest was the pay reduction forced on Nora Barrows Friedman outside of union seniority.

Early on a careful review of Brian Edward-Tiekert's infamous 2005 e-mail meeting agenda to the insiders' strategy group made it quite clear that their group was supreme to the union. What makes this clear. They are discussing the possibility of going on strike and how to deal with union grievances. The recipients of this e-mail, the members of their secret strategy group, included management employee Lemlem Rigio who they later pushed up to GM in their continuing quest for undemocratic power. As a former member of several unions I can say that we never did plan strategy on such issues with members of management. In addition to management there were other people in that group that were not union members, who just happened to be Concerned Listeners leadership: Sherry Gendelman and Bonnie Simmons.

The e-mail below was found at the station in September 2005. It has been acknowledged as real by the author. I have contacted in person or by e-mail everyone but one on that strategy group to ask them if they were just recipients of an e-mail that discussed "dismantling the LSB" and other interesting topics or were they active participants and none of them have denied active involvement.

This e-mail was sent shortly after the LSB voted down a staff motion to fire the GM for sexual harassment. It was voted down 15-5. Four of the five votes for it were in this e-mail group. There was NO evidence of sexual harassment found after two separate investigations. It was an attempt to fire an African-American GM who wouldn't toe their line. Their pushing for this unjust firing caused them to lose the majority on the LSB, thus their need for a strategic retreat. This e-mail gives one a view of what these folks really believe in! Sort of like a Pentagon Paper. -- Richard Phelps, former Chair KPFA LSB.

From:"Brian Edwards-Tiekert"
Yahoo! DomainKeys has confirmed that this message was sent by Learn more
To:"Lemlem Tekle" , "Bonnie Simmons" , LisaRothman [at]
CC:"Sasha Lilley" , "Lemlem Tekle" , mawu_mama37 [at], "Amelia Gonzalez-Garcia" , Rain Geesler" , "Sherry Gendelman" , "Gary Niederhoff"
Subject:Re: budget
Date:Thu, 1 Sep 2005 20:58:28 -0700

I'm up for coffee Saturday-Lisa and I can still meet Tuesday afternoon. Also, we need a general strategy session. How about Tuesday night?

Issues include:

How should we be handling the expiration of the union contract-is a strike in order, or is it a really terrible idea?

What's the best way to deal with these layoffs? (needed way back then and not done)

Coming up with, and presenting, an alternative budget.

Getting the Roy issue to the national board.

Propping up staff morale.

Strategic retreat on the LSB-how do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come? Alternatively, should we be recalling LSB members/dismantling the LSB?

Dealing with the grievances underway.

Building community support-formation of a labor-community coalition.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert
Staff Representative, Local Station Board
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Berkeley CA 94704

And don't forget BET's demonstration of his Karl Rove mentality at work> "how do we make our enemies own the problems that are to come?"

That philosophy is the basis for all the lies and distortions of truth that we see continuously coming from CL and their allies.

And when they rage on about disrespect for the staff don't forget their agenda item of "Propping up staff morale." This demonstrates such a callous disregard for the staff, their pawns in their continuing drive for absolute power and control of the station.

Richard Phelps
405 14th Street, Suite 508
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 268-9919, Fax (510) 268-0368
PhelpsMediation [at]

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