The DIY Employer

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Berkeley-The rogue majority on the Pacifica National Board declined to appoint an executive director at Thursday night's board meeting. In fact, they declined to talk about the executive director vacancy at all. Unelected board chair Wilkinson, after failing to receive a majority of votes as chair of the board in February, has inserted herself into the executive director position at Pacifica twice in the last four months. The board also failed to discuss or provide any information on the attempt to relocate WBAI's antenna to the Conde Nast building, the replacement of KPFT's declining transmitter before the 5th temporary stay runs out in November, the now 18-month delay in Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds, the erroneous tax returns filed in 2013, and the audit that has not begun 9 1/2 months after the close of the last fiscal year.

The board meeting open session focused largely on agenda-setting, with KPFT director Hank Lamb trying to calender his motion to issue a request for proposals for the sale of WBAI, the network's financially struggling New York outlet.

Members objecting to the board majority's chaotic actions over the past six months, which will lead to the network's dissolution, can sign a petition here.

In the closed session, the board spent its time refereeing charges and counter-charges emanating from the network's national headquarters, where five workplace complaints were received last fall. An independent investigation report by an Association of Workplace Investigators-certified inspector on working conditions in the national office was hijacked by Wilkinson, who was reported to have taken the report "home" and did nt show it to the full board of directors for the past 5 months. Affiliate director Janis Lane Ewart recently conducted a directors inspection to view the report, but has not yet revealed the contents.

The latest set of accusations involves a complaint against an individual by an individual who had previously filed a complaint about their now-accuser. As board members pointed out at some length, back and forth accusations can and often do contain elements of actual or potential retaliation and need to be handled with care by employers. A request for an independent review of the latest accusation was dealt with flippantly by the board majority which passed a motion that any directors who wished to call in a neutral third party to review the latest set of charges would have to pay for the fee out of their own personal pocketbooks. 

Three of the five staff representatives on the national board (1 paid and 2 unpaid), voted in favor of the motion, placing them in the position of voting against the interests of workers in neutral review of workplace complaints and protection from actual or potential retaliation. The board's resolution results in Pacifica defaulting on the legal responsibilities of a California employer.

In Berkeley, labor issues remained in the forefront, as administrative employees at CWA local 9415, without a vote or notification of the members of the bargaining unit attempted to convince the San Francisco Labor Council to repeal a resolution passed in June of 2014 by the council (and later by the executive committee of ILWU Local 10 and Local 214 of the LCU as well as numerous community organizations including the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Veterans for Peace, the Gray Panthers, the Richmond Progressive Alliance and the San Francisco Green Party.  The motion to repeal by the local, which is not a member of the SF Labor Council, will be heard by the delegates on July 14th at 6:00pm at the Plumbers Local Hall at 1621 Market Street. The public is welcome to attend.
KPFA's former local station board chair Richard Phelps wrote an article in June laying out concisely some of the history of the programming and labor struggles at the Berkeley station.

At Tuesday's national finance committee meeting, the committee heard that financial statements would not be available until at least the end of July. The network appears to be caught in a Catch-22 feedback loop in which local station business managers insist that they cannot produce financial statements without numbers from the national headquarters and national headquarters staffers insist with equal fervour that they cannot produce financial statements without numbers from local station business managers. The earliest possible start date for the audit required under California law for a nonprofit corporation with $12 million dollars in annual revenues is now pushed to the end of July meaning a completed audit would not be available until September at the earliest, a year after the close of the fiscal year and past the two-extensions deadline for submitting tax returns on August 15th.

The network has been tagged by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for violating open meeting requirements and committee chair, Brian Edwards-Tiekert had to be chastized by committee secretary R. Paul Martin for claiming closed session meetings could be scheduled weeks in advance without notice. The finance committee had not met in closed session for more than year to maximize transparency about the network's troubled finances, but the 2014 committee moved rapidly to resume closed meetings not open to the public via internet stream. The reason for the secret session referred to "legal matters requiring the privileged advice of counsel". However the national finance committee has no authority over legal matters and is unable to receive the privileged advice of counsel as attorney-client privilege only exists for the full board of directors, not a committee that include non-members of the board of directors. The Pacifica foundation has not hired a coporate counsel since Terry Gross resigned in March of 2014.

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.