Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rudderless Pacifica Back in Front of Labor Relations Board

Rudderless Pacifica Back in Front of Labor Relations Board

Berkeley-SAG/AFTRA has filed a  complaint at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Pacifica Radio, for unilateral contract modifications and bargaining in bad faith with the union local at WPFW-FM in Washington DC. Acting/interim/disputed chair Margy Wilkinson approved the seeming contract violations at an April staff meeting when presented by WPFW's general manager Michele Price. The complaint report can be seen here. 
The full board of directors has not been notified of the grievance more than two weeks after it was filed at the National Labor Relations Board. One of the conditions attached to Summer Reese's contract as executive director was that the board be informed of all pending litigation and grievances *immediately*. Wilkinson has also continued to hold privately the workplace investigation report Pacifica ordered to address hostile workplace complaints filed against the recently rehired CFO. 
Temporary/interim ED Bernard Duncan has not returned from Los Angeles to the Berkeley headquarters after falling ill 3 days into his first week of employment. 
An open letter signed by hundreds of the network's staffers and supporters objecting to the breach of Reese's contract can be found here.
Pacifica's financial situation continues to be extremely perilous, driven largely by severe cash shortfalls at the local stations. DC station WPFW is down to $4,000 in its operating account with no clear way to pay the end of the month payroll and WBAI has about $250,000 in unpaid bills piled up. KPFT in Houston faces a March 27th deadline to get up to full power after 4 FCC extensions. Station managers are improvising without clear guidance from national about how to meet their obligations without enough cash on hand. Slow progress is being made on the overdue bank reconcilations at KPFA, but recent financial reports presented by the local board treasurer at the last two local board meetings both contained math errors and overstated earnings. The new audit completion date is anticipated to be no sooner than the end of June. 
A FAQ about the events of the last 75 days can be found here. 
The PDGG directors have called a special meeting for April 27th to address falsified minutes and the on-going lack of corporate counsel, but are not sure their colleagues in the majority will attend the meeting. The amended PDGG vs. Pacifica complaint can be found here in a 137-page full complaint and a 24-page Memorandum of Points and Authorities

A complaint filed by 8 former national board members with the CA Attorney General can be found here.

A satirical look at the chaos at the radio stations and what the future holds amid rumors of a network breakup by the Twit Wits comedy troupe (produced by noted theatrical producer George Coates) can be found here. 

Disputed chair Margy Wilkinson is reported to have said with regard to Reese's attempted firing; "it isn't illegal until someone says it is". The explanation of how Wilkinson assumed the chair seat on the basis of a mis-marked ballot can be heard here. 

Reese has continued to report to work at the national headquarters since March 17th.
Daniel Borgstrom who accompanied Reese on her St. Patrick's Day return to work, wrote about his experiences here. 


Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica's storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin's incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-supported radio.

Tracy Rosenberg
Executive Director
Media Alliance
1904 Franklin Street # 818
Oakland CA 94612
510-832-9000 x303
510-684-6853 Cell

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