COME TO A PICKET: KPFA’s workers have called a picket to protest Pacifica’s hire of union-busters Jackson Lewis and invite listeners to attend. It’s on Wednesday, April 18, noon-1pm, in front of KPFA. Be there, bring friends!
Since news broke that Pacifica has hired notorious anti-union legal firm Jackson Lewis, a petition against union-busting at the network has gotten nearly 1600 signatures.
Bill Berkowitz of Buzzflash at Truthout calls the development “a dramatic and disturbing departure from Pacifica’s progressive origins.” In his Politics in the Zeros blog, Bob Morris said the news showed that “the national board now directly opposes everything Pacifica used to stand for.” Labor journalist Dick Meister, who does a weekly show at sister station KPFT told the California Federation of Labor that he was “appalled at what seems to be happening.” The news has been covered in the labor press, as well as Matthew Lasar‘s Radio Survivor blog, San Francisco’s Fog City Journal, and Current, a magazine on public broadcasting.
Contrary to Pacifica’s portrayal of Jackson Lewis as being brought in under an “insurance deductible” in which Pacifica had “no choice,” it has been confirmed that Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt, strongly recommended the firm to the Pacifica National Board (PNB), which then voted to put it on a general retainer. Engelhardt admitted in an online blog that Jackson Lewis is on retainer and doing “non-litigation” work such as arbitrations. In the same blog, Engelhardt attacked KPFA’s staff, saying she was “deeply disappointed” in their “integrity and professionalism,” while praising the anti-union lawyers, saying they had “saved [Pacifica] money” and done “an exemplary job.”
Members of KPFA’s Local Station Board brought a strong resolution against law firm Jackson Lewis at their April 7 meeting. You’d think severing ties with the nation’s top union-busting firm would be a no-brainer, but in the discussion, KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg (who is also Pacifica’s national board treasurer) defended their hiring. Rosenberg said she voted to hire Jackson Lewis because it was “aggressive” and Pacifica “needed” an aggressive law firm. It is clear that Pacifica National Board members discussed Jackson Lewis’ anti-union reputation before voting to hire it.
KPFA boardmember Conn Hallinan said the signed retainer agreement with Jackson Lewis “refers very specifically to the fact that the firm was hired to deal with ‘general labor issues,’ but I don’t care…what they were hired to do,” he said. “The idea that we would give our members’ money to fuel an anti-democratic, anti-worker, anti-progressive organization like this is just beyond belief,” said Hallinan. | LISTEN to audio of Conn Hallinan (2:30 min)| LISTEN to entire LSB meeting: part 1, part 2, part 3 (Jackson Lewis discussion), part 4
You made the difference! Thanks to pressure from the hundreds of listeners who signed petitions and wrote in, even Tracy Rosenberg ultimately voted for the resolution calling on Pacifica to end its relationship with the controversial firm. An amended version of the resolution passed KPFA’s board by a vote of 15-0 with 2 abstentions. The unanimous, cross-factional resolution from KPFA’s Local Station Board will increase pressure on Pacifica.
LET’S KEEP UP THE PRESSURE: click here to send an email demanding the Pacifica National Board terminate all contracts with Jackson Lewis!