April 4th’s national day of action in support of labor began in the bay area with KPFA staff and listeners outside the offices of parent organization Pacifica. They were protesting the actions of Pacifica’s executive director Arlene Engelhardt, whose campaign against KPFA’s workers has repeatedly violated the station’s union contract. Engelhardt killed the station’s popular Morning Show last November, and has spent over $30,000 of listeners’ money on an anti-union law firm, Folger Levin at the rate of $400 an hour.
News anchor John Hamilton spoke to the crowd, describing how his job was saved after coworkers donated their hours in an act of solidarity to keep him employed. (Hamilton’s annual salary is less than what KPFA has paid for three months union-busting lawyers.)
Micky Mayzes, director of the KPFA First Voice Apprenticeship Program, spoke about how Pacifica was founded to raise money for KPFA, the original station in the Pacifica network. Yet now, she pointed out, KPFA and the other stations in the network pay “tribute” to Pacifica of 20% of their income, while the network raises little or nothing for the station.
Former Pacifica national affairs correspondent Larry Bensky spoke to picketers about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated on April 4th while supporting striking union sanitation workers in Memphis, and the irony of Pacifica spending money to fight KPFA’s union workers, when they should be spending that money on programming marking Martin Luther King’s legacy.