The Layoffs

by Terry Goodman

The claim that station layoffs were somehow orchestrated by Tracy Rosenberg is fraudulent.

The current union agreement includes clauses that allow some management flexibility in the application of its seniority provisions. Pacifica Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt received legal advice from Pacifica's Counsel regarding the proper interpretation of these provisions and then discussed the layoff options available under the agreement with various members of KPFA management, staff, and governance before finally announcing her personnel decisions. KPFA's Station Representative Directors at the time were invited by the ED to participate in a private discussion of the issues, and Tracy Rosenberg was one of those Directors.

Rosenberg is an effective persuader when she has an opinion on something, but the "hit list" email claimed to exist by in connection with this governance member consultation was never produced, so was probably pure fabrication. In any case, the Executive Director's decisions were her own. When provided the opportunity, Engelhardt has explained her rationale for specific KPFA staff cuts in detail, justifying them as best for the station given the PNB-mandated KPFA staff expense reduction and the limits to layoff flexibility imposed by the union agreement. Recognizing imbalance at KPFA compared to other Pacifica stations in the large KPFA allocation of salaries to air talent, she sought and accomplished cost-saving remedy with a minimum disruption of the KPFA broadcast schedule.

Although popular show exclusions might have been negotiated by the union if it had proposed anything of the sort during the year or more that the implementation of necessary KPFA layoffs was delayed, no such option was on the table when the Executive Director decided to intervene on an emergency basis in correction of persistent and repeated KPFA local management budgeting failures and a projected near-immediate problem in meeting the station's payroll. Any "KPFA Morning Show" exemption to staff cuts on the basis of its good fund-raising record would clearly have violated the general intent of layoff provisions in the KPFA union agreement.

In seeking reasonable compliance with its legal obligations under contract, it is perhaps worth noting that Pacifica clearly decided *not* to "target" employees for layoff on the basis of any predicted inability by them to rally listener support or to raise a stink with their allies. Certainly some staff at KPFA may see Engelhardt's or Rosenberg's continuing refusal to be bullied by smears, propaganda and distortions as a threat to their faction's continuing attempts to capture and secure perpetual local dominance at the station. So they should; but demonstrated resistance by individuals to political manipulation after the fact is surely not evidence of any earlier impropriety.
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Terry Goodman served Pacifica in a variety of volunteer, staff, and management roles at KPFK and KPFT in the 1970's. He was elected twice to the office of KPFK Delegate following Pacifica's governance democratization, and those terms included service as Secretary of the National Finance Committee and Chair of the PNB Elections Committee, among various local positions.

Goodman is an outspoken and controversial internet list commentator on Pacifica affairs (especially Mission and Bylaws related issues), but is sufficiently recognized for fairness and personal integrity to have continued service as parliamentary advisor to some KPFK Chairs and as Teller for most KPFK area board elections. Though based in the Los Angeles area, he maintains perspective on the affairs at other stations and at Pacifica National through list participation, private correspondence, and by devouring posted documents and media files.

Goodman's opinions are sometimes informed by broad study and a variety of experiences in law, business, politics, psychology, sociology, technology, and broadcasting. He authored a rather comprehensive but admittedly biased examination of Pacifica issues in 2006, which may be found on the bottom half of the page at Pacifica Issues


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