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Defend Labor Programming At KPFA-Rescind Ban By KPFA Program Council & Management
The KPFA Program Council with the support of KPFA management has banned labor programming
proposals from the KPFA Labor Collective for one year. There will be a meeting of the KFPA Local
Station Board on 12:30 on April 22, 2006 and a motion will be made to rescind this action.
Defend Labor Programming At KFPA
Program Council/Management Bans
Labor Programming By KPFA Labor Collective
On March 8, 2006, Women's Day, the KPFA Program Council with only two votes opposed voted to ban any labor programming proposals from the KPFA Labor Collective for one year. They say they took this action because of " deteriorating relationships with the station staff" and "ongoing disruption of the unpaid staff structure" at KPFA.
This banning of programming by the KPFA Program Council and the KPFA Management including the new manager Lemlem Rijio is an attack on all working people and the labor movement. Their justification is the same aruguments used by employers against unions in the workplace.
At the same time, this banning will mean that the many hours of special labor programming at KFPA on May Day, Labor Day and Workers Memorial Day, MLK Day will no longer be broadcast.
We believe that all working people and listeners of KPFA need to speak out against this action and support the rescinding of it at the upcoming KFPA Local Station Board Meeting on Saturday April 22, 2006 which will be held in San Jose.
The action was taken without a hearing of the charges against the labor collective and it was outside the purview of the Programming Council to take disciplinary action. Its purpose is to consider and to act on programming proposals and programs.
If you agree with this statement, please sign our petition protesting the banning of programming proposals from the KPFA Labor Collective. Also please send a letter to KPFA LSB at or call
Listener Comment line at 510-848-6767 ext. 622. email programming [at] kpfa.org
Acting General Manager Lemlem Rijio at <generalmanager [at] kpfa.org> with a copy to Pacifica Executive Director Greg Guma contact [at] pacifica.org and copies for the KPFA Labor Collective at kpfalaborcollective [at] yahoo.com
For The KPFA Labor Collective
KPFA Labor Collective
94.1FM Free Speech Radio KPFA Local Station Board (LSB)
Will Meet in San Jose!!!
Saturday, April 22nd @ 12:30pm (come earlier to socialize)
UFCW Local 428 Hall
230 South Market Street @ San Carlos (Downtown San Jose)
next to Fairmont Hotel
Free Parking at 2nd and San Carlos Garage (2 blocks away)
Open Statement To Local Station Board On Program "Moratorium" Passed By KFPA
Dear LSB Board Members,
On March 8, 2006, the Program Council majority voted to put a one year
"moratorium" on all programming proposals from the KPFA Labor Collective.
They say they took this action because of "deteriorating relationships with
staff and volunteers" and "ongoing disruption of the unpaid staff
structure". This action took place without the ability of the KPFA Labor
Collective to respond to these accusations in person. Also, members of the
KPFA Program Council who are running for representatives for the Program
Council from the UPSO were themselves voting for retaliation and
discrimination against members of the KPFA Labor Collective who were also
running for the Program Council positions.
This disciplinary action by the Program Council not for programming quality
or content but because of accusations of alleged "disruption" and bad
behavior puts the Program Council in the position of not only determining
programming based on the program but on the behavior of programmers.
We do not believe that the Program Council can be allowed to make these
decisions and this was especially egregious since they did not have a fair,
democratic transparent process in making this determination.
We call on the LSB to set aside these actions to to pass a policy statement
that it is not in the preview of the Program Council to make determinations
and take actions due to the behavior of programmers.
We also would like to point out that false allegations were made by some
members of the Program Council and the LSB that some of our members had been
"banned" by KQED. This false rumor was made in order to get KPFA Business
Manager Lois Withers to take action to "ban" the collective. When Ms.
Withers realized that these statements were not accurate she withdrew the
The lack of consistency and checks and balances by the Program Council must
be rectified and your quick action is critical to stopping these injustices
from continuing. In the labor movement, a proper grievance procedure allows
for due process before action is taken. Our collective has also won
important support from broad sections of the trade union movement for more
labor programming at KFPA and for support of a weekly one hour labor show
produced by the KPFA Labor Collective called "Workweek". Our labor shows
have programmed on Labor Day, May Day, Workers Memorial Day and MLK Day. The
attempted exclusion of our labor programming is a setback for KPFA
responsibility to cover the voices of all people including working people in
We think exposure of these methods at KPFA against the KPFA Labor Collective
and others who may have different points of view on how KPFA and the Program
Council is necessary. These methods and practices are harmful for the
development of KPFA, it's staff, volunteers and for the advancement of it's
KPFA Labor Collective
KPFA Labor Collective
KPFA Labor Collective was created by KPFA.
After many requests and pressure from labor community and labor activists to have a regular labor program on KPFA, KPFA decided to have a town hall meeting in July 2003, inviting many labor activists to have a dialogue between KPFA and labor community.
About 40 to 50 activists attended this meeting including David Bacon. Almost all of them expressed the need to have a regular labor program on KPFA. Susan Stone, the head of the Art and Literature department, conducted the meeting, and the outcome was that we continue the discussion toward possible formation of a collective in KPFA. For the next 6 months, 15 ~20 people met every month at the KPFA station to discuss the formation of a group.
February 2004, the group formed the KPFA Labor Collective (LC), and elected 3 officers. The officers’ term was set for 6 months, and Steve Zeltzer was elected as a chair. Susan Stone remained as the station liaison between LC and the Program Council (PC). Later Kris Welch took over the position when Susan quit as a full time staff. Since KPFA LC doesn’t have a regular program, we have been submitting many one-time specials for special occasions, and we were able to put some of the proposals on air, however, we experienced many problems through the process of submitting those proposals.
At the last March 7th PC meeting, PC voted not to accept any proposal from LC including one-time or on-going programs for one year, because “Due to deteriorating relationships with station staff and volunteers, and ongoing disruption of the unpaid staff structure, a cooling off period is being imposed.” LC only attended PC meeting a couple of times to explain the proposal of “Work Week”, a proposal for a weekly program. We had no problems at all with them during those meetings. However, we were banned from submitting any proposal for one year because of they claimed that the staff doesn’t want to work with LC. We believe that this is a discriminatory action of the PC toward LC. PC doesn’t punish their own members who threw a chair during one of heated meeting, but us who had no problem with them. Why?
We believe this so called “ongoing disruption of the unpaid staff structure (UPSO)” started after a member of LC Sureya Sayadi was elected as one of the 5 members UPSO Council. She started experiencing problems within the council like many decisions were made without her involving, and lack of transparency and democracy in UPSO like how they decide things or the list of the membership were kept under control of Bonnie Simons who is not an elected person or even officially appointed by the council, and even a elected council member like Sureya couldn’t get the full membership list including e-mails list.
The election for the Program Council reps from UPSO became a major problem for them. 3 of the Labor Collective members ran for the election, and the election supposed to be held on last November 15th which was about 6 months delay from the scheduled time of the spring 05. However, according to Kris Welch who we met on Feb. 28th said that “insiders” were afraid of LC might taking over the UPSO.
They requested to re-submit a membership by October 15th, '05 then challenge those of Labor Collective and Middle East Radio Project members. It has been 5 Month after the Oct. 15, and we still don’t know who is a member and who is not. LC wanted to have the election as soon as possible, because not only the election was due last spring, but also some of the unpaid reps were voting to oppose other unpaid group’s program proposals. We started voicing some of the problems at UPSO meetings, and they took it as “disruption.”
However, the “disruption” and their hostile attitude toward us at UPSO is not only the problem, we also experienced problems through simply submitting proposals including;
1. Some proposals were never submitted to the PC by Kris Welch.
2. We often don’t find out whether we got the airtime or how many hours until just 2 to 3 days before the requested time.
3. We were told by Vini (acting program co-coordinator) that we will have airtime, then suddenly 2 to 3 days before, we were told No, we don’t have.
4. William Walker helped one time as a board op for a live show, and while the hosts were talking to a remote reporter, he suddenly switched to music, and said a word “shit” on the air, then up and down the stairs shouting. The hosts at this time were 2 women and they got freighted. The filed a grievance, but it was never processed.
We also have submitted a 1-hour weekly labor program to the Program Council for 2 times after the collective was formed and one before that. However, all the proposals had been denied. The last pilot we made with the proposal was denied by saying that although the program was good, however, there were some glitches, and the PC recommended LC to take training classes for the next 6 months before we can re-submit another proposal. This we took their advise, and Dev volunteer to give us classes on board operation.
KPFA Labor Collective is supported by:
1. The Labor Collective collected over 500 signatures to support a weekly labor program. These petitions were submitted to the PC in spring of ‘05.
2. Resolutions were past to support a weekly labor program by the Labor Collective by: San Francisco Labor Council, Contra Costa Labor Council, SEIU Local 616, and SEIU Local 790. The copies of the resolution were given to the PC. Apparently, these were ignored saying the PC doesn’t want to get a pressure from outsider.
Labor Day 04 – 10-3PM
MLK 05 – denied
Black History Month – denied
Women’s Day 05 – denied
Workers Memorial Day 4/28, 05
May Day 05
Juneteenth and UHW 6/19/05
AFL-CIO convention report 8/6/05
Labor Day 05
9/24/05 Anti-War – Kris didn’t put it in to PC – Grievance in
Election and Labor with KPFK joint program 10/29/05
MLK – denied
Black History Month – denied
Women’s Day - denied
Training Classes we have done: (Total 13 classes)
Editing with Sound Forge – Jan., Feb., March 04 (by staff -5 classes),
8/7/05, 9/23/05(by Grace – 2 classes)
Phone interview recording – by Mehmet - 8/21/05, 6/10/05 (2 classes)
Mike interview and recording – by Mea Kim – 7/24/05 (1 class)
Board Operation – by Dev - 10/27/05, November 05, January 06 (3 classes)
Date: March 8, 2006
To: The KPFA Labor Collective
From: The KFPA Program Council
This letter is to notify the collective that as of today, March 8, 2006, the
KPFA Program Council and Programming Department will not be accepting
proposals for one-time or on-going programming from the collective. This
moratorium will last for one year from the date of this letter.
Due to the deteriorating relationships with the station staff and
volunteers, and ongoing disruption of the unpaid staff structure, a cooling
off period is being imposed.
We take this action regretfully, but are convinced that allowing further
disruption to the unpaid staff organization is not in the best interests of
the hundreds of community programmers who currently access KPFA, and the
hundreds more who will in the future.
The Program Council has made every attempt to work with the Labor
Collective, accepting a total of 13 proposals in a 14 month period, and
approving six sessions of multiple hour broadcasts (far more than has been
allocated to any other community groups), but we have now concluded that the
resources we have to offer cannot satisfy the collective.
Although we do intend to expand our labor-related programming, we cannot
continue to sanction acrimonious behavior towards our other volunteer
programmers and our employees, whatever the cause.
The KPFA Program Council
Internal Machinations, Community Radio And Programming At KPFA
The lack of accountability, transparency and a very divergent view of
community radio is part and parcel of the continuing crisis at KPFA radio.
An example of this, is the continuing machinations of the majority of the
Unpaid Programmers Staff Organization UPSO Council at KPFA.
This organization, which is supposed to represent the majority of
programmers at KPFA is presently led by the same forces that opposed
changing the time of Democracy Now so it would be more accessible to working
people and also have opposed more working class programming on KPFA radio.
The UPSO representatives on the KPFA Program Council have voted against a
regular labor radio show on KPFA proposed by the KPFA labor collective and
have also recently opposed having labor programming on MLK day that was
being planned by the Collective.
The recent machinations of this grouping is now being played out in an
effort to "control" the election of new representatives on the programming
The same grouping including Bonnie Simmons, Mary Berg, Shahram Aghamir,
Sally Phillips, Serge Morel have also supported the "re-registration" of all
UPSO members to make sure that there was "accountability" in the election
process. Elections were supposed to take place last October. After winning a
hotly contested vote to have a total re-registration of UPSO members, they
then voted that they would vet who was a member or not a member by asking
the managers and CWA union representatives at the station to find out who
was "questionable" as a member of UPSO. At the latest UPSO general
meeting on January 11, 2005, it was announced by council member Serge Morel
that they had about 22 people that they had questions about whether they
were proper members of UPSO. He also announced that they would not release
this information to the UPSO general membership due to confidentiality
concerns about these members. In other words, they apparently still do not
have a list of who is a member of the CWA unit at the station and also
management is in charge of raising questions about who or is not a member
of UPSO and this information will be kept a secret from the UPSO members who
come to a general meeting of UPSO. The election committee has also been kept
out of the loop and one member of the UPSO council who disagrees with these
methods has also be prevented from getting this information. If fact, the
report by Morel supposedly given on the election to the UPSO general
membership meeting was not even discussed with all the members of the UPSO
This was supported again, by the same grouping that was for supposed
"accountability" in the election. It was agreed at a previous meeting that
ballots for the UPSO program council election would go out on November of
last year and would be counted at the end of the month. This was voted on by
the Council and then completely ignored.
The prevailing view of the leadership of paid staff is that the community
should not really run programming at KPFA but it should be left to the
"professionals". Max Pringle, who was at one time a representative on the
paid staff complained publicly at one of the Local Station Board Meetings
that he was "getting tired" of hearing from community listeners about what
programming should be on KPFA. The programming council which is supposed to
be in charge of programming has in fact kowtowed to the staff and management
about what and when programming will be on.
The preemption for example of the Alito hearing was not discussed at the
program council and was simply announced by management. The procedure of
making programming proposals to the program council for deliberation is an
obstacle course designed to allow the staff and management to do what they
want to do.
In relation to the KPFA Labor Collective this has been a constant trend at
KPFA. At the anti-war demonstration in October of last year the labor
collective proposed covering the labor rally held before the main rally.
This had been done at the previous march.
The same forces who really control programming at KPFA stalled any decision
on covering the rally and then told the KPFA Labor Collective that they
could not cover the labor rally because they had other programming
scheduled. The Programming Council refuses to challenge these methods.
It also turned out that Chris Welch and staff decided unilaterally with
management to dump the proposals that had been presented to the program
council and "take" control of programming for the day. The result was the
there was no coverage of the labor rally and that the station was unable to
cover the rally and speakers in any coherent way. Programmer Larry Bensky
who with Chris Welch who took over programming that day declared that he was
"unaware" that there were any other programming proposals.
This was done without agreement or discussion at the program council. The
same UPSO council members who support these methods are also the same ones
who have opposed regular labor programming at the station.
Unfortunately, David Bacon another labor programmer at the station has also
opposed more regular labor programming. When SEIU 790 San Francisco Council
passed a resolution to support a one hour regular labor show produced by the
KPFA Labor Collective and to contribute funds for more labor programming,
Bacon told his friends at SEIU that he had "problems" with the resolution.
He refused to meet with the members of SEIU 790 about his "problems" with
their resolution of support for more labor programming. In the past Bacon
has said that he will only work with people who do not want to change the
present morning show scheduling.
The lack of transparency and accountability of the programming at KFPA has
led in part to many others leaving the station.
At the Tookie Williams execution, proposals had been made by Black
programmers at KPFA who regularly cover repression and issues in the Black
community to cover the execution. Instead without consulting these
programmers, the staff decided who would make the decisions and Amelia
Gonzalez who is a manager and in charge of Literature, Arts and Public
affairs decided to co-host the program at San Quentin.
This led to JR of Block Report Radio and another Black programmer at KPFA
protesting at the December 2005 KPFA LSB meeting. The lack of coverage by
the KPFA news department of an attack on Black and Arab Americans at a
protest at DeAnza College by the station was also never dealt with by the
program council. Despite the fact that every news station in the bay area
covered the protest live against ex-secretary Powell, the KPFA News
Department could not arrange live coverage. Apparently, the News Department
which has a large budget was unable to send a reporter to DeAnza or even had
a correspondent in the distant South Bay that could provide live coverage.
This is an ongoing problem. Many KPFA listener areas like Sonoma, the South
Bay and Fresno have no regular correspondents on KPFA news so that their
regional news and information can be covered by KFPA.
In fact ,regular programs like the morning news show and others do not have
to sign a "contract" and have a regular evaluation like other shows at the
The end result of this lack of transparency and accountability is that labor
and community programming which should be on the air is shutout by the
As a result of these policies working people in Northern California will not
be able to hear labor programming about segregation in the schools,
discrimination against Black workers and the trafficking of women in the
global economy on MLK's birthday.
Spending Too Much Time On Programming Proposals From KPFA Labor Collective
> From: Tracy Rosenberg
> email: tracyrose [at] gmail.com
> Date: March 11, 2006
> To: The KPFA LSB
> From: Tracy Rosenberg, Community Representative to
> the Program Council and Facilitator
> I am sending this statement in response to the 3-11
> memo from Joe Wanzala and Sepideh Khowsrajah. Two
> brief disclaimers before I begin. This statement
> reflects my point of view and my point of view only,
> although I hope it accurately describes some of the
> thoughts of the 13 person majority on the Program
> Council that supported the action. And secondly,
> that I appreciate the civility and intelligence of
> Joe and Sepideh's letter of dissent. As facilitator,
> it is my role to act in accordance with the majority
> vote of the body, and as with all groups, sometimes
> there is consensus and sometimes there is not. I
> fully support their right to civil disagreement, and
> am writing this not to rebut, but simply to provide
> some perspective on the differing point of view.
> Joe and Sepideh's intial point is that there is a
> problem of resource allocation at KPFA.
> I believe this point is obvious and beyond dissent.
> Over and over again, on a multitude of issues, it is
> clear that there are difficulties for community
> groups coming into KPFA with the desire to create
> programming to go on air. There are problems with
> technical training time, equipment usage, board op
> availiability, broadcast availability, and live
> recording capabilities. All of the unpaid
> programmers (and to some extent, the paid ones as
> well) must exist in an environment that is very
> frustrating at times. It is not within anyone's
> power, at the moment, to snap their fingers and make
> the problems go away. One of the responsibilities of
> programmers in our community is to work within this
> framework, with it's challenges, in a constructive
> manner. The only alternative is to make a difficult
> environment more difficult for everyone involved.
> This serves to reduce KPFA's efficacy, not improve
> Joe and Sepideh also refer to "testimony" brought
> before the Program Council. The Program Council is
> not a court, we did not hold a hearing, and we do
> not hear testimony. We are a collaborative working
> group who look at KPFA's on-air programming and
> proposals for new programming options. As the Labor
> Collective has submitted over a dozen proposals for
> one-time programming, in addition to a proposal for
> a weekly public affairs show, they have put
> themselves in front of the program council for
> discussion on a constant basis for the last year. I
> believe it is accurate to state that one or more of
> their proposals has been an agenda item on every
> single of the Program Council's last 40 weekly
> meetings. The Program Council has also objected in
> writing directly to the Labor Collective on language
> that we found rude and confrontational towards us,
> on a previous occasion. I believe that all of the
> Program Council members have a wealth of direct
> experience in their program council cap!
> abilities to inform their decison-making.
> Joe and Sepideh mention that what is missing from
> the equation is the frustration felt by the Labor
> Collective. As I have said above, I do not think
> this frustration is felt only and exclusively by the
> Labor Collective. The program council has made a
> determined effort to ensure that all proposals are
> granted a fair and timely review, and in the past
> year, has excavated and processed 16 on-going
> proposals, some dating from 2004 (including the
> Kevin Cartwright/Kitty Epstein education show which
> will be beginning a 13 week pilot run on Friday
> afternoons alternating with Pushing Limits). As
> stated, we also processed and approved a half a
> dozen one-time programming proposals from the Labor
> Collective this past year, including an April 2005
> rally from Sacramento in 2005, a national call-in
> show prior to the State Special Election, and
> multi-hour blocks of programming time on May Day and
> Labor Day of 2005, as well as delivering requested
> training of Labor Collective members in supp!
> ort of their on-going proposal, a service that has
> not been made available to other community groups
> who may wish to do regular programming on KPFA.
> For the collective to inundate the Program Council
> with an ever-increasing quantity of one-time
> proposals (this year proposals have been submitted
> for two hours on Jan 16th, two hours on Feb 20th,
> two hours on March 8th, two hours on March 18th, and
> four hours on April 16th, with an expected proposal
> for May 1) is a monopolization of the one-time
> proposal process to serve only one group's objective
> to do regular programming on KPFA.
> It is my firm belief, that whatever the pent-up
> demand might be (and there are only half a dozen
> approved proposals on the waiting list) that the
> work the Program Council is doing to evaluate in
> writing existing on-going programming and place it
> under contract to the station, is an essential first
> step to any assessment of the program grid. I do not
> see how you can assess without asssessing. That it
> is time-consuming is not surprising given that the
> work has not been done for 7-plus years.
> On the final point: The program council is not
> addressing personnel matters, we are addressing
> programming matters: namely the proposals that we
> will accept for review and the ones that we will
> not. Our role is not to execute disciplinary action,
> but merely to approve the proposals that we believe
> are strong radio programming, and that we believe
> contribute to the strength of KPFA's on-air sound. I
> believe that when one group's usage of the proposal
> process is demonstrated over the course of a year to
> disrupt station operations, to cause increased
> tension, anger and frustration inside our community
> (as the numerous complaints filed with station
> management attest), and monopolize the program
> council's time to the injury of other community and
> station groups who also deserve attention, that
> these are programming matters that affect the
> station's efficacy and the strength of it's on-air
> sound. I believe these are the fundamental reasons
> for the program council's decision.
> Tracy Rosenberg
> KPFA Program Council