The near-disaster

For many years KPFA has been living beyond its means. In 2010 then Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt prevented a financial collapse by laying off some of the station's staff. That resulted in a huge hassle as can be seen in this article by Virginia Browning who explains why the layoffs of 2010 were necessary. Virginia is a member of UNITED FOR COMMUNITY RADIO (UCR).

The near-disaster of 2010

by Virginia Browning
November 18, 2010

TOGETHER paid and unpaid staff and listeners prevented the selling off of Pacifica stations in 1999. Now IS the time to Support KPFA! Devastating as current [2010] layoffs of low-seniority staff are, former KPFA treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert knew this day had to come years ago.

Few would argue with the claim that current KPFA Morning Show hosts have done some excellent work seldom heard in radio these days. Alternative budget? They have been scoured, hoping they could provide help.

In one article by
Carol Spooner, you can read laid off Morning Show host Brian Edwards-Tiekert urging other Pacifica stations to make needed cuts, all the while supporting more hires by KPFA.

Votes by Edwards-Tiekert and his allies on the National Pacifica board during that time show his support for a regime at the New York station that was quickly draining the network. Mara Rivera and others have posted the details of this on Indybay and elsewhere.

Locally, as treasurer of the KPFA Local Station Board, Edwards-Tiekert presented and urged, and with his majority on the board passed, budgets that hid important pieces of information from the board for several years in a row. This greatly exacerbated the current financial problems. (While the economy in general surely contributed, many on the board not of Edwards-Tiekert's group urged for years more caution and planning. Had their advice been heeded, KPFA would likely be spared this crisis now, even with the bad economy.)

Someone may post on indybay the section of the union contract (which I have seen) that forbids "job actions" when the contract is in compliance. It would seem that the constant on-air referral to a website giving much disinformation by Edwards-Tiekert and his on-air allies violates this contract.

For example: It is certainly disinformation, as is claimed on that site, that "people of color" were targeted for layoffs. It happens that 6 or 7 KPFA staff took voluntary leave.

At a meeting of the Berkeley Labor Commission Wednesday night, November 17th, 2010, a statement was made by Esther Manilla, one who took the voluntary leave, that she didn't think it would come down this way. She said, as I recall and others too, that she thought if she took leave some others from her show would automatically be spared.

However, the low seniority of Aimee Allison, for example, a very skilled host with a dynamic voice whom many, myself included, are sorry to see leave, has the lowest seniority of all on-air hosts.

One charge by Edwards-Tiekert is that the so-called "sustainable budget" -- rushed into the board meeting months and months after the budget should have been passed -- could have saved the layoffs. Despite its last-minute arrival, Pacifica Executive Director and CFO LaVarn Williams carefully checked and re-checked this budget, passing it by Pacifica's insurance company and others to ensure workability. However, as detailed by Engelhardt November 17th (2010) to the Berkeley Labor Commission and elsewhere, unfortunately this budget would not save the network and station from the need for cuts. That Engelhardt and Williams did carefully consider this alternative budget is never reported by Edwards-Tiekert's longtime gatekeeper group on the air or on their websites. Of course many of the famous guests who only know these gatekeepers as skilled trusted on-air personalities have now passed on the disinformation elsewhere.

One would think such actions would be reason enough to at least sanction Edwards-Tiekert, but he has been supported by a local management at KPFA that aided in these damaging actions.

However, his layoff is NOT "payback" for even this, as he is now claiming, but the simple fact that within his job classification, he is one of the lowest in seniority. He is claiming that others there have lower seniority. Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt has emphasized that Edwards-Tiekert may well have "bumping rights" if he is qualified for other positions whose current job-holders have lower seniority than Edwards-Tiekert. Negotiation between union and management is set to be stepped up in the next few days.

The union emphasized to Executive Director Engelhardt that layoffs must follow union seniority guidelines. Engelhardt has emphasized that she stepped in months after local management neglected to stave off the crisis, carefully following this mandate from the union.

November 18, 2010

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10 Years of KPFA Finances in TABLE FORMAT

and, presented as a GRAPH, the same data:
10 Years of KPFA Finances GRAPH

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for updates, reports & essays on KPFA/Pacifica,
please visit these websites:





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KPFA 94.1 FM is one of five stations of the Pacifica radio network which are located in major cities across the country. The other stations are WBAI 99.5 in New York, WPFW 89.3 in Washington DC, KPFT 90.1 in Houston, and KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles. There are also about 160 affiliate stations.

Vote for the UCR -- United for Community Radio


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