Union grievance forces Pacifica to reinstate laid off staffer; Judge issues TRO against Pacifica

Pacifica management is reinstating former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert with back pay and other benefits — but he will be employed starting Monday, February 28 as a news reporter rather than as a morning co-host. Edwards-Tiekert, who is outspoken on station issues and critical of management, was laid off out of seniority order. An arbitration on his case had been pending.

“Legally speaking, Pacifica management is throwing in the towel,” wrote Edwards-Tiekert in a letter to supporters. “After three months of stonewalling, they have given our union a ‘make whole’ offer for my grievance: that means they’ll be putting me back on payroll, with back pay. Pacifica has basically conceded it can’t win the pending arbitration over my dismissal. This is a victory for our union in enforcing its contract.” PRESS COVERAGE: East Bay Express | KPFA News | berkeleyside.com | Bay Area Observer

Until the settlement this week, Pacifica management had claimed repeatedly that its layoffs would be upheld by a neutral arbitrator. Co-host Aimee Allison’s arbitration hearing is still going forward, according to KPFAWorker.org.

Supporters are redoubling their efforts in the wake of the win. “Brian’s return to the station is an important victory, but we are not going to rest until Aimee Allison, David Bacon and all the other Morning Show staff, paid and unpaid, are back as well,” said KPFA board member Pamela Drake. “Pacifica was not following the union contract, which protects workers from being singled out on the basis of their political positions.”

We urge everyone to give generously during the current KPFA fund drive – here’s our advice for listeners who’ve asked us how to donate.

New financial details about KPFA’s budget

Financial documents show that KPFA was already outperforming its budget by $290,000 in the first quarter of this fiscal year, casting serious doubt on Pacifica’s claims that it needed to lay off Morning Show co-hosts Aimee Allison and Brian Edwards-Tiekert to meet budget targets (the combined cost of both their salaries and benefits is in the vicinity of $80,000). | SEE LINE 51 COLUMN K OF THIS SPREADSHEET

“These financials go only through December, before KPFA gained any savings from the layoffs because it was still paying severance to most laid off staff at that time,” said Barbara Whipperman, KPFA’s local board treasurer. “In fact, this shows that Pacifica may have generated an unreasonably pessimistic budget in order to justify the layoffs.”

Results from the first week of KPFA’s pledge drive show that the new morning lineup is raising much less than before. | SEE GRAPH

Pacifica hit with TRO and injunction in two separate legal rulings within a week

An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on February 23 prohibiting the Pacifica National Board from discussing KPFA issues at its upcoming meeting in Houston, and setting a date for a full hearing on March 18.

“This is the third legal ruling in as many months against the out-of-control Pacifica national board,” said board member Dan Siegel. “Making up reasons to throw democratically-elected representatives off its board is not the way to run a national progressive radio network.”

The ruling was in response to a petition filed last Friday by a majority of the members of KPFA’s Local Station Board. In January, SaveKPFA members Andrea Turner, Dan Siegel, and Laura Prives won election to Pacifica’s National Board, marking a major loss of power for the group led by Tracy Rosenberg that backed the termination of KPFA’s Morning Show. Then, without notice, the incumbent members of the Pacifica National office threw Dan Siegel off both the local and national board, using an absurd misinterpretation of the Pacifica bylaws. They illegally extended the tenure of incumbent national board members Joe Wanzala and Shahram Aghamir, who had been due to be replaced by the SaveKPFA representatives.

“Pacifica faces critical issues right now,” said KPFA local board chair Margy Wilkinson, a member of SaveKPFA. “At a time when the right is attempting to bust unions nationwide, and millions in the Middle East are rising up for democracy, we should be using our resources to further social justice. We should not be forced to go to court in endless battles over the network’s governance.”

The ruling follows two recent similar court actions. Pacifica was slapped with an injunction on February 18 after a KPFK/Los Angeles staff delegate went to court to prevent the network from illegally annulling an election there. Another injunction was issued in December requiring Pacifica to refrain from annulling KPFA’s staff delegate election and requiring it to seat democratically-elected SaveKPFA-affiliated rep Lewis Sawyer.