KPFA Workers Sign Divisive Contract, Lay-Off's Follow
by Lyn Gerry
September 15, 1997

Samuel Guia, a paid staff member at KPFA-FM, Pacifica's Berkeley station said lay-offs of five paid staff members were announced today. This follows the signing of a contract between management and Communications Workers of America (CWA) last Tuesday by paid staff which excluded the unpaid staff. Unpaid staff had been represented by union contract since 1987. KPFA workers changed their union affiliation to CWA earlier this year. KPFA workers had previously been represented by the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) which still represents workers at WBAI-FM in New York and KPFK-FM in Los Angeles.

Samuel had been Chief Steward at KPFA until recently. He resigned when the paid staff voted 16-7 to ratify the contract excluding the unpaid staff, because he couldn't stomach the lack of solidarity. Unpaid staff had been in the process of organizing for CWA representation and are scheduled to meet with CWA representatives on Wednesday.

Samuel believes that people of color, particularly Latinos have been targeted for removal. He cited remarks of management's labor lawyer, Larry Drapkin regarding the affirmative action clause of the contract. Samuel was told by one of the contract negotiators that, in a negotiating session, Drapkin asserted that affirmative action language, previously part of the contract, must be removed as it will conflict with the provisions of Proposition 209.

Present in the meeting when these remarks were made by Drapkin were Chupoo Alifante, union negotiator; Mark Mericle, union negotiator; Marci Lockwood, outgoing KPFA General Manager; Phil Osegueda, KPFA Assistant Manager, John Dugan, CWA organizer and Larry Drapkin, management's attorney.

Samuel believes this is part of a pattern which has included the removal of a significant ratio of Latino-oriented programs at several Pacifica stations, as well as discourtesy toward Latino staff members such as Mario Murillo at WBAI, recipient of the "screw you and the horse you rode up on" memo written about by Alexander Cockburn in The Nation.

The first KPFA worker to be laid off was Patricia Medina, the Women's Department Director, a part-time union position. Patricia was told by Lynne Chadwick, acting general manager of KPFA, that all part- time executive producer positions were to be eliminated and their duties taken over by the Program Director, a management position. KPFA is expected to hire a new Program Director soon. Though the identity of the new PD has not been announced, it is believed to be someone from KQED, the San Francisco NPR station.

Samuel said management justified the lay-offs due to a budget shortfall caused by "large donor contributions drying up." Samuel believes that revelations in the Bay Area press regarding the conduct of Pacifica management has alienated KPFA's major donors.

Prior to the announcement, Samuel said, CWA negotiator Bill Harvey met with Pacifica and CWA lawyers. Samuel believes CWA was aware of management plans to lay-off workers, but said nothing to the members.

Although workers have been threatened with retaliation by management for speaking out, Samuel said he can keep silent no longer. He says he speaks, "not as a member of the union. nor as a member of the KPFA staff but as a human being." He described the behavior of KPFA/Pacifica Management as " treacherous," epitomized by the removal of International Workers Day, May 1, as a Pacifica holiday. This day, said Samuel who comes from Peru, is recognized all over the world as one which honors workers. Its loss, he said, illustrates the contempt for workers in the New Pacifica.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, September 9, 1997 CONTACT: Burt Glass, Pacifica, (510) 843-0130 ext 253 or Bill Harvey, CWA, (510) 834-9415.

UNION CONTRACT FOR KPFA APPROVED BY SUBSTANTIAL MAJORITY Communications Workers, Pacifica Radio Management Both Pleased With Accord

BERKELEY, CA -- The unionized employees at Pacifica Radio's KPFA-FM 94.1 in Berkeley approved a new three-year contract that provides a 10.75 percent raise for workers in base pay over the life of the contract, and maintains and expands the radio station's generous benefit package. Both union and management spokespeople say both sides see this agreement, and the atomosphere surrounding these negotiations, as a "win-win" outcome.

"This agreement is the result of frank discussions and creative bargaining by both sides, and it stands as a fine example of the collective bargaining process," said Bill Harvey, Secretary/Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, Local 9415. "Our members achieved their goals in terms of compensation and job security, and the parties now have a meaningful dispute resolution procedure."

Added Pat Scott, Pacifica Executive Director, "Both sides entered the negotiations with the right attitude, and the result is a fair contract which maintains KPFA's organizational strengths, provides financial stability and flexibility, and confirms that KPFA is working together as a team."

Scott added that representatives of the local bargaining unit and the Communications Workers of America worked with KPFA management to keep the talks cooperative and moving briskly. "Notwithstanding the many significant differences of opinion, the negotiations always emphasized working together to find solutions which worked for both sides, and it resulted in an agreement we all can be proud of," Scott said.

KPFA's workers selected CWA as their new union affiliation in the spring. The talks lasted eight negotiating sessions, beginning July 7. The final proposal was approved yesterday "by a substantial majority," according to CWA officials.

The last contract had been negotiated in 1992, and had been extended for one year at the union's request. The new contract, which runs from August 1, 1997, to September 30, 2000, contains new features, such as:

* A pay raise - 3.5 percent raise in 1997, 3.5 percent in 1998, and 3.75 percent in 1999;
* Pension fund payments - 2 percent of salary;
* Binding arbitration for resolving grievances;
* On-air "voice bug" identifying KPFA as a union shop.

Also, the new contract maintains many aspects of the previous contract, such as:

* Child care allowance - $100 a month for every child under 12;
* Continuation of excellent health and dental benefits;
* Vacation policy that adds one week every year - up to five weeks after four years;
* 403(b) savings plan.

KPFA-FM 94.1 is the flagship station for Pacifica Radio, the country's oldest listener-sponsored public radio network. Pacifica operates five stations in Berkeley, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Houston, and distributes programs to more than 50 affiliate and subscriber stations.

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