FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2010
KPFA Workers To Picket Thursday to Oppose Cuts to a Quarter of Staff
(Berkeley, CA – November 3, 2010) Union workers at America’s first listener-sponsored radio station, KPFA 94.1 FM, have mobilized to oppose imminent dramatic cuts to KPFA staffing by their parent organization, the Pacifica Foundation. The Morning Show, Against the Grain, Hard Knock Radio, and the Evening News all appear slated for severe program changes and/or decimating cuts, which may include other vital positions at KPFA. The station has already cut nearly a fifth of its workforce over the past year.
Pacifica’s executive director, Arlene Engelhardt, claims a budget shortfall requires the layoffs, but she has rejected most of the proposed alternative cost-savings measures that have won the backing of the staff, KPFA’s Local Station Board, and KPFA management. Those proposals, known as the Sustainable Budget, would preserve jobs while cutting unnecessary board expenses and reducing bureaucratic overhead.
“We’re shocked that Pacifica is disregarding all the recommendations made by the union,” says Communications Workers of America Local 9415 shop steward Antonio Ortiz. “I don’t understand how cutting a quarter of the staff will help the financial viability of the station in the long term.”
“Even during these difficult times, KPFA raises enough money to pay for itself. But it can’t afford to pay for Pacifica and its bureaucracy as well,” says Sasha Lilley, co-host of the public affairs program Against the Grain. “When listeners donate to KPFA, they expect the money to go to programming, not to governance and national bureaucracy. Since 2002, Pacifica has spent more than $2.4 million on its boards and elections alone.”
In the coming fiscal year, Pacifica wants KPFA to pay it more than $800,000, which is more than 21% of KPFA’s revenue.
KPFA’s union will be holding an informational picket at noon on Thursday, November 4 at the offices of Pacifica, located at 1925
Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley. The picket has been sanctioned by the Alameda Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which has condemned Pacifica for its “anti-union actions.” The San Francisco Labor Council has passed a similar resolution.
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 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 KPFAworker.org. A fact sheet about the cuts at KPFA can be found at