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Bring JR back to KPFA now!

March 20, 2013

Join KPFA’s Black and other broadcasters of color and unpaid staff for a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., in Laney College Student Center Room 401, fourth floor, 900 Fallon St., Oakland

Introduction by SF Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff

For the third week in a row, one of the largest audiences for any show on KPFA was disappointed not to hear the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey and his Block Report on the air Wednesday at 8 a.m. Instead we heard an announcement by interim general manager Andrew Phillips that JR has been suspended. Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often.

Black Media Appreciation Night Willie Ratcliff, JR Valrey smiles Yoshi's 112612 by TaSin Sabir, web
The great success of Black Media Appreciation Night at Yoshi’s is reflected at the end of the show in the happy faces of Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff and associate editor JR Valrey, who organized it. Listen to KPFA’s broadcast of the unforgettable event at http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/88711. – Photo: TaSin Sabir
It’s an echo of Reconstruction, that brief period 150 years ago following the Emancipation Proclamation when, within three years of winning the vote, Blacks had won 15 percent of all elected offices in the South. With Black progress measured in one step forward and two steps back, however, the payback for such audacity continues to this day.

Like the intrusion of Blacks into the hallowed halls of Congress, the intrusion of JR, a young Black man from the hood, into KPFA’s prime drive time has been met with resentment, yet his show has been a success by any measure. JR, a volunteer, unpaid host at KPFA whose show costs the station nothing, has raised $50,000 for the station’s paid staff during his short stint as a drive time host.

KPFA is worth fighting for. Its 59,000 watts reach millions in Northern and Central California, yet its audience – except for JR’s show and others that speak boldly for the voiceless – is shrinking. With hosts who draw thousands of new listeners, as JR does, KPFA can free the minds of the masses to resolve the conflicts that are killing us and our world.

Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often.

In my six years on the KPFA Local Station Board, I heard countless complaints of racism. Racism, practiced with impunity by some of the paid staff, has lost KPFA many excellent broadcasters of color. Like theirs, JR’s complaints have been ignored, while the complaints filed against JR by the Communications Workers of America, the union representing KPFA’s mostly white paid staff, are the excuse for his suspension.

Yet JR refuses to leave, and the rest of KPFA’s Black and other broadcasters of color – and many more – are rallying around him. Please join them by:

  1. signing the two petitions that are circulating,
    • one below (add your signature by emailing editor@sfbayview.com) and
    • another online at Change.org – click HERE – and
  2. attending the Town Hall Meeting, where everyone can speak out, on Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., at Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland, in Student Center Room 401 (details below).

Petition to end the suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA

We are requesting that KPFA management rescind its decision to suspend JR Valrey from the Morning Mix. Management’s decision to suspend Mr. Valrey without providing a fair hearing is a violation of his fundamental due process rights.

Free Wheelin' Franklin, Sinista Z, G1 of Rebel Diaz, JR, Rod Starz, Deanna, Holly Works at KPFA Oscar Grant special 0608
While JR Valrey is accused of creating a hostile work environment – apparently by being a Black man – at KPFA, what he really does there is to bring people together. Here he is with Free Wheelin’ Franklin Sterling, Sinista Z, G1 and Rod Starz of Rebel Diaz, Deanna and Holly Works at KPFA recording a special on Oscar Grant, on June 8, 2010. JR broke the story of Oscar’s police murder on KPFA.
Mr. Valrey has made several complaints to KPFA management about abusive conduct by some KPFA paid station staff members. None of the people he has complained about have been suspended.

On Feb. 28, 2013, Mr. Valrey was suspended from the Morning Mix show for allegedly “creating a hostile working environment.” Suspending him without due process is inconsistent with Pacifica’s mission and contrary to past practices. Additionally, several other staff members have made comments on the air dealing with internal politics that often were not exactly “fair and balanced” and upset other staff, but they did not get suspended.

The suspension of 60 days for Mr. Valrey pending an investigation is punishment without determination of guilt. Mr. Valrey is not accused of any criminal act or violence at the station. Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Valrey in the absence of a complete investigation of the allegations against him, and a fair due process hearing, is an unfair punishment and, thus, a violation of his rights as an unpaid staff member at KPFA, according to the UPSO (UnPaid Staff Organization) bylaws.

We are requesting that Mr. Valrey be reinstated back on the Morning Mix. Additionally, we ask that this and any other disputes between Mr. Valrey and any other staff at KPFA be resolved with proper investigation and due process prior to any punishment.

Signers (add your signature by emailing editor@sfbayview.com):

Willie Ratcliff, publisher, SF Bay View, and former member, KPFA Local Station Board
Mary Ratcliff, editor, SF Bay View
Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate
Gerald Smith, labor activist and former member, KPFA Local Station Board (petition author)
Davey D, host, Hard Knock Radio, KPFA
Walter Turner, host, Africa Today, KPFA
Greg Bridges, host, Transitions on Traditions, KPFA, KCSM, Reflections in Rhythm
Jared Ball, WPFW host, IMixWhatILike.org
Tim Killings, Laney Black Student Union (author of the online petition)
Rebel Diaz, Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, The Bronx
Don DeBar, CPRmetro.org, Community Progressive Radio
Gerald Perreira, Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and African Revolutionary Movement (ARM)
Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu, Lyric Dance and Vocal Ensemble
Thandisizwe Chimurenga, KPFK host
Kevin Epps, filmmaker, deYoung Fine Arts Museum artist fellow
Donald E. Lacy, LoveLife Foundation, KPOO host
Anita Woodley, actor, Princess Dragon Productions, LLC
James D. Calhoun, ElevenFour Productions
Maya Garcia, aka Ms. B, Gemstone and Block Report Radio crew
Stan Woods, former member, KPFA Local Station Board and KPFA Program Council
Oriana Ides, ARISE High School
Anita Lopez, KPFA supporter and listener
Jessica Gelay, KPFA listener and supporter, Berkeley native
Jacob Crawford, WeCopwatch.org
Anushka Baltes
Asatah J, former KPFA listener and educator
Malcolm Chu, community organizer, Springfield, Mass.
Lyla Bugara, KPFA listener and organizer
Tracie D. Moreland
Virginia Browning
Jodi Tsapis, youth and community worker, San Francisco
Coriander Melious, Special Education teacher, Oakland Technical High School FADA Campus
J.B. Gerald and J. Maas, Gerald and Maas, Ottawa
Henry Peters, former KPFA broadcaster, Michigan
Mara Rivera, KPFA listener supporter
Khari Toure, listener and spoken word artist
Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Clenched Fist Productions
Moises Galvan, listener supporter
K Moon Howe, KPFA supporter and listener
Mary Berg, long time KPFA broadcaster, supporter and advocate
Kiana Davis, KPFA listener
Kevin Weston, principle at KwestOn Media
Malaika H Kambon, photojournalist and former programmer at KPFA
Steve Martinot, college professor
Charles Brown, IBEW
Jack Heyman, ILWU
Richard Phelps, attorney, mediator, former member and chair, KPFA Local Station Board
Lisa ‘Tiny’ Gray-Garcia, Poor News Network, KPFA broadcaster
Tony Robles, Poor News Network, KPFA broadcaster
Elbert ‘Big Man’ Howard, former editor of The Black Panther newspaper, founding member of PACH (Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline), jazz host and board member of KWTF 88.1FM
Carole Hyams Howard, nurse, founding member of PACH (Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline), board member of KWTF 88.1FM
San Francisco Green Party
Rich Stone, SF Green Party County Council, SF Labor Council APWU Delegate
John-Marc Chandonia, SF Green Party County Council
Rev. Sandra Decker, SF Green Party
Ann Garrison, KPFA Evening News reporter, WBAI AfrobeatRadio producer
Adam Hudson, independent journalist, writer and photographer
DM Moore, dedicated listener and supporter of JR Valrey’s journalism and radio program
Bill Carpenter, videographer, retired adjunct instructor at City College of SF
Galen Kusic, editor, River News-Herald and Isleton Journal, Rio Vista, Calif.
Leo Stegman, writer
Peter Byrne, independent journalist
Terrell Baker
Russell Albans, better known as Eesuu, the artist
Mikela McFly of Block Report Radio, former KPFA listener
Rashida Petrovich
Mona Hall
George Pope
Claude Gatebuke
Susan Rahman, KPFA listener
Mona Hall
Martin Luther McCoy, actor, singer, producer, activist
Kiki Poe
George Cammarota, Bay Area activist
Evan Coller
Randy Gould
Mike Leonard, United Educators of San Francisco, Local 61, KPFA listener and supporter
Duane Deterville, artist, writer, MA in Visual and Critical Studies, CCA, www.duanedeterville.com, columnist for SF MOMA Blog Open Space
Nedar Bey, GreenLeaf Solar Solutions
Judy Walenta, Sebastopol
Dean Drumheller
Gavin Tolentino
Ivan Viray Santos, teacher at James Logan High School in Ethnic Studies – Filipino Heritage Studies, Asian American Studies
Todd Armstrong
Kambale Musavuli
Lesley Tiyesha Phillips
Petr Dann
Mishwa Lee
Ivan Olsen, Gonzales, Calif. – I listen to KPFA on-line
Sandra Morey, Oakland CA 94602
OurLegacee.com
Sho’mane Evans, Office Manager at Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute in Berkeley and long time KPFA listener

My thoughts on JR’s suspension by KPFA

by Steve Martinot

JR Valrey was suspended from his Wednesday 8-9 a.m. show on KPFA for having made public statements on the radio about what was going on in the station. He made these statements on Feb. 8. There was no gag rule he was violating.

He raised two issues at that time. The first was that Sasha Lilley, a host of KPFA’s Against the Grain, was being given an award by the station during Black History Month. Lilley is white. JR criticized the station management for having chosen that time to give a white person an award. It could have been done any other time of the year, and a Black person could have been recognized by the station during that month.

The other issue he raised was what had happened to him at the hands of Michael Yoshida some time in December. He was in the studio, recording an interview by long distance phone, with someone in the Congo, speaking about what was going on in the Congo, which has become a very dire situation. He was putting together this show because he felt that KPFA News was not sufficiently covering the Congo situation, and he wanted to make up the deficit.

During the course of these interviews, his use of the studio went beyond the time period for which he had reserved it. Michael Yoshida came in, informed him that he was in the studio illegitimately, broke the phone connection of the interview, and erased the tapes that JR had made.

JR did not put Yoshida in the hospital at that moment. I have nothing but awe for his self-restraint.

The unpaid staff is the majority of the workers in that station. Those who are in the union bargaining unit – paid staff – refuse to include them. I think that would satisfy anyone’s definition of elitism.

JR complained to Andrew Phillips, the station’s interim general manager. Andrew did nothing about it. JR waited two months, reminded Andrew that there was a problem several times, and finally said what he had to say about it on the radio. Yoshida was not suspended for having destroyed JR’s work. But JR is suspended for what he has to say about what Yoshida did.

The union is calling for JR to be suspended permanently. Yoshida is part of the union bargaining unit, and JR is not because he is unpaid staff. The unpaid staff is the majority of the workers in that station. Those who are in the union bargaining unit – paid staff – refuse to include them. I think that would satisfy anyone’s definition of elitism.

In supporting Yoshida in his attack on JR – to destroy a person’s work is to attack him – and in attacking JR in turn by calling for his separation from the station, the union and its membership, to the extent they agree with the union, demonstrate their elitism in practice.

Why is this an example of white supremacy? Because the union claims that what JR was saying in his broadcast about the harassment he has been receiving at the station, which he claims is on a racial basis – he gives statistics – is itself a racist attack on the station.

Now, racism is a system and structure of oppression. It is not possible for Black people to systematically and structurally oppress white people in this society, let alone an institution. Racism, which occurs in the U.S. as an element of a system of white domination of people of color, is thus an expression of white supremacy. (If anyone needs more elaborate discussion and reasoning on this, please see me and we can go over it.)

One of the privileges and prerogatives of white supremacy in its force of domination is its self-entitlement to accuse and convict its victims of what it does to them. The supremacism of whiteness also entitles whites in their own eyes to proclaim themselves innocent of such things as domination, and see any objection to the way they treat other people as arrogance and aggression.

One of the privileges and prerogatives of white supremacy in its force of domination is its self-entitlement to accuse and convict its victims of what it does to them.

And for white supremacists, if that resistance, which it sees as arrogance and aggressiveness, is racial in character because in resistance to racial oppression, then that resistance is what constitutes racism for it. Rebellion against racial oppression is seen as aggression, against which white supremacy decriminalizes its continued attacks as self-defense. For the union to claim that what JR said on the radio is racist is testimony to the union assuming just that kind of entitlement for itself, a way of silencing the anger of the oppressed.

JR is a militant Black voice that is being suppressed. As a militant Black voice, he played an important role in the station.

Steve Martinot, who teaches at the Center for Interdisciplinary Programs at San Francisco State University, is the author of “The Rule of Racialization: Class, Identity, Governance.” He has edited two previous books and translated “Racism” by Albert Memmi. He can be reached at martinot4@gmail.com.

Regarding Minister of Information JR Valrey’s suspension from KPFA

by Galen Kusic

The recent suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA has sparked great interest in the surrounding region as to why his show is currently off the air. I am writing a piece on free speech and freedom of the press, and this ties into it.

Block Report Radio provides an outlet for truth, innovation, honesty and community like few radio shows ever have. This groundbreaking style of radio is one that should be studied and emulated for the current generation and those in the future.

Block Report Radio provides an outlet for truth, innovation, honesty and community like few radio shows ever have. This groundbreaking style of radio is one that should be studied and emulated for the current generation and those in the future.

To strike one of the purest forms of free speech from the airwaves is daunting. Why? What is the explanation?

As an advocate for free speech, freedom of the press and the obligation that public radio has to its listeners, I request Block Report Radio be put back on the air.

Galen Kusic, editor at the River News-Herald and Isleton Journal, based in Rio Vista, Calif., can be reached at glin83@yahoo.com.

More notable comments

JR does valuable work representing a very underserved and underrepresented segment of our society. Bring him back to the Morning Mix and the KPFA airwaves. – Greg Bridges, KPFA, KCSM

As a Green, anti-war vet and Labor Council delegate and activist, I proudly submit my name to your petition in order to reinstate JR to the KPFA and the morning Block Report show. – In solidarity, Rich Stone, SF Green Party County Council, SF Labor Council APWU Delegate

Here is my signature supporting the petition to reinstate JR. He discusses issues concerning African Americans that mainstream media do not. – Kiana Davis, KPFA Listener

I strongly support KPFA and most all of the programs. I listen to David D and to Minister of Information JR. I consider it vital to the KPFA audience for JR’s program to be back on the air as soon as possible. I love the programs and most of all love all the voices and FREE speech radio with no stupidity from mainstream media propaganda. Long live KPFA and long live JR and the Block Report. – Moises Galvan

We are requesting that KPFA management rescind its decision to suspend JR Valrey from the Morning Mix. Management’s decision to suspend Mr. Valrey without providing a fair hearing is a violation of his fundamental due process rights. – Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Clenched Fist Productions

Please add my name to the list. JR is one of the ONLY reasons I listen to KPFA. – Coriander Melious, Special Education Teacher, Oakland Technical High School F.A.D.A. Campus

Please add my name to the petition to bring JR back to KPFA. This is an unjust horror that flies in the face of what’s right and KPFA’s supposed principles. – Lyla Bugara, KPFA listener and organizer with ColorOfChange.org

Please bring my cousin back. There are a lot of people who listen for him. – Terrell Baker

I’d say hell yes bring JR back. KPFA is supposed to report community news? Who else can do this but people who know the community from the inside. I think that this is its highest mission. Reminds me of the squeezing out of Nora Barrows Friedman. She too got out there to report whats being done to the Palestinians only to be shunted impolitely off of Flashpoints. Those so-called union as a chastening rod types do their best to drive community reporters off the air and run up attorneys’ fees which they fully expect KPFA contributors to pay for. – George Pope, San Mateo, Calif., and Kokrobite, Ghana

Bring JR back to KPFA. This is an unjust horror that flies in the face of what’s right and KPFA’s supposed principles.

Please add my name to the KPFA petition in support of JR Valrey. I love his radio program and the content needs to be heard! – Jodi Tsapis, Youth and Community Worker in San Francisco

There should be clear language on what can or cannot be said on the air about in-station issues, then punishment should be dealt out equally to all who violate these rules – not just JR. That would not be fair. Why are you choosing to punish one person for shedding light on our issues and still others go unpunished for their defiance of the rules and continue to broadcast like nothing ever happened? Don’t let the decision to suspend JR stand and allow him to broadcast. – Franklin Sterling, KPFA Local Station Board staff representative

I camped out at KPFA during the lockout and support JR Valreys return to the airwaves immediately. – Leo Stegman

I am an avid supporter of KPFA. Ive donated over the past several years, Ive donated time to Womens Magazine and encouraged all of my friends and family to also support the work you do. JR Valrey has been a much needed voice for a demographic that is typically overlooked by mainstream media. KPFA is considered “the people’s station” and you have a responsibility to the community to represent ALL of us. I ask you, respectfully, to bring JR Valrey back to the air and give our community their voice back. – Peace, Kiki Poe

I won’t donate to KPFA if JR’s suspension isn’t lifted.  Evan Coller

I have been involved in the struggle against white supremacy and white skin privilege now for more that 45 years. What is going on at KPFA with regards to JR is most certainly a fine example of what I have been fighting against all of my adult life. While the actions of KPFA are not surprising by any means, they are still disgusting. I stand in solidarity with JR and his many fine supporters.  Randy Gould, Scission (blog), Kansas City, Missouri

The Morning Mix and Hard Knock Radio are two of the most important programs on KPFA, in my opinion. I listen to both almost daily on my commute to and from work on Muni. I have reached out to my union leadership encouraging them to expand the capacities of our media production to be more diverse, inclusive and dynamic. I took this action due in large part to the insight and inspiration gained from these broadcasts over the years. JR is one of the journalists whose experience and perspective is needed both on the airwaves and as a model for real local independent media. Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff and the SF Bay View for offering this petition and information regarding the on-going suspension. Members are certainly not learning anything from Pacifica regarding the situation. In solidarity.  Mike Leonard, United Educators of San Francisco, Local 61, KPFA listener and supporter

[This comment refers to an infomercial run as a substitute for JR’s show on April 17.] KPFA is becoming KQED. Bill Gates Foundation has its own time slot talking about robots. This is a bizarre disgrace. PLEASE get rid of the current general manager! KPFA is disappearing. Every pledge drive is full of reasons to not ask for money during the pledge drive but bring the listener important current events instead. STOP the current general manager from making decisions. Get someone new, responsible, and intelligent and respectful enough to respond to listener call-ins. Where is KPFA?  Dean Drumheller

Please add my name to the petititon in support of JR Valrey. I have written to Andrew Phillips that I will not contribute to KPFA until JR is reinstated. I have seen KPFA and Pacifica through a lot of changes but this is totally unacceptable. Especially when the paid on air staff is dominated by white men.  Judy Walenta, Sebastopol

JR’s news, information and perspective must be kept on air!  Gavin Tolentino

As a financial supporter of KPFA, I join the community in demanding that JR be taken off suspension and brought back into the studio.  Ivan Viray Santos, teacher at James Logan High School in Ethnic Studies  Filipino Heritage Studies, Asian American Studies

I have been a listener and supporter of JR and the Block Report since its inception. What is going on? Why has he been suspended?

I am very unhappy that KPFA is playing double standards, when one paid producer gets away with the F bomb on air (potentially a huge fine) with no suspension or reprimand even. Yet when JR, an unpaid volunteer, rightly criticizes KPFAs obvious racial bias he gets a suspension.

It is extremely hard for me to continue supporting KPFA after all the racial animosity the station has shown toward Africans at the station. I stopped donating my hard earned money after KPFA abused another long time Black volunteer, Nadra Foster. Most of my friends and family feel the same way I do about KPFA’s shift towards a mainstream format and we do not like it at all. If KPFA would re-institute the Third World and Women’s departments, more people would listen and more donations would come through. I am a woman and an African, so KPFA has taken away the two departments that best represent me.

KPFA needs to bring back programming for women and third world listeners as well. KPFA, bring JR and the Block Report back immediately. All power to the people! – Lesley Tiyesha Phillips

Stop the gentr-ifica gentrification of community radio and return JR to the airwaves. National and local gentr-ifica policies of removing critical Black voices from the airwaves is a growing epidemic. Yet gentr-ifica seems to have no problem piggy-backing on the Black liberation struggle for its own purposes. A true revolutionary movement will not be led by a white-entitled, liberal non-profit mentality! Viva Davey D and JR! – Petr Dann, petrdann@gmail.com

I am a long time supporter of KPFA and was very pleased when JR Valreys program started airing on Wednesday morning on KPFA. I find JR to be an astute and focused interviewer. Each program was timely, informative and unique among progressive talk radio. He helped me to understand in greater depth my privilege as a Euro-American and ways to be an ally by staying informed and active regarding issues of racism in our community and nation.

It is unconscionable that he was suspended without reason and without a democratic process. The issues of who are paid programmers and who are volunteers at KPFA needs to be aired in the open as well. Until JR is returned to KPFA and afforded the right to continue his show, I am suspending my monthly contribution.

Please be advised that I will be requesting of my bank that no further funds be withdrawn by KPFA. – Mishwa Lee, San Francisco

Please add my name to the petition at the BayView. I miss his show on KPFA. I always found it informative and well produced. The guests were folks we don’t usually get to hear from and JR is a terrific interviewer. I didn’t always agree with his point of view, but it always was presented clearly and gave me food for thought. I don’t like the process of disappearing reporters and programs without any listener input. By the way, JR raised a bunch of money for the station and that was important.
Sandra Morey, Oakland CA 94602

KPFA’s Black and other broadcasters of color and unpaid staff host Town Hall Meeting at Laney College

Join KPFA’s Black and other broadcasters of color and unpaid staff for a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m., in Laney College Student Center Room 401, fourth floor, 900 Fallon St., Oakland, to talk about:

  1. The arbitrary suspension of Black broadcaster JR Valrey from the Morning Mix, without due process, as well as the consistently racist treatment of other broadcasters and staff of color in the recent past, including Nadra Foster, Carrie Core, Miguel Gavilan Molina and more. Come tell your story!
  2. Rally to Save Hard Knock Radio Flashpoints and Full Circle at KPFA JR speaking 111110 by Lisa Dettmer, web
    Anita Johnson of KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio (holding the bullhorn) and JR organized a very well attended and exceptionally harmonious rally outside KPFA on Nov. 10, 2010, to save Hard Knock and Flashpoints, two of KPFA’s most revolutionary shows, when the entrenched paid staff, sometimes referred to as the White Citizens Council, tried to shut them down. – Photo: Lisa Dettmer
    KPFA/Pacifica’s use of a two-tier system to deal with the paid and unpaid staff. At KPFA, 80 percent of the broadcasters are unpaid; the 20 percent who are paid use up all of the resources, although all broadcasters must raise funds. The unpaid staff have NO say in decisions about the budget, hiring, office allocation etc.
  3. No Program Council at KPFA. The Program Council used to be a group of one third listeners, one third broadcasters and one third management that evaluated shows and recommended changes to the programming grid. In ‘08-’09, former Program Director Sasha Lilley, a host of Against the Grain radio show, abolished the Program Council, effectively ridding KPFA of listeners’ and broadcasters’ participation in programming decisions.
  4. No grievance process. KPFA lacks a process to address grievances from the unpaid staff in a timely manner.
  5. Pacifica and KPFA management’s selective enforcement of the rules. Unpaid staff are penalized, while paid staff, for the same infractions, are not even addressed, let alone punished.
  6. The pseudo-union CWA (Communications Workers of America), which represents only the 20 percent of the staff that are paid, and not all paid staff support it. It effectively controls the station and runs it into the ground, for the benefit of the entrenched paid staff.

The Town Hall will feature Gerald Smith, formerly of the KPFA Local Station Board, Frank Sterling of the current Local Station Board, Tracy Rosenberg of the Pacifica Natonal Board and the “suspended” People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey of Block Report Radio. Bring your stories, suggestions and support.

For more info, call the SF Bay View newspaper at (415) 671-0789.

 

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13 thoughts on “Bring JR back to KPFA now!

  1. Ann_Garrison

    I'm unpaid staff at KPFA and an elected member of the Unpaid Staff Organization Council, and I am on the hiring committee for a subscriptions assistant. The subscriptions assistant has some responsibility for handling the phone room during the fund drive, keeping track of pledges and premiums, making sure the right premiums are delivered to subscribers, and solving problems for KPFA subscribers who don't get their premiums. Not a glamorous media job but an important job because the fund drives are what make KPFA has a budget, however imperfectly that budget may be handled. If subscribers don't get their premiums, they may not subscribe again.

    This is also a half time job that includes full benefits, so there are a lot of applicants who want to do it to support another passion, including social justice journalism, and just because it's a KPFA job.

    I'm not saying this to dispute other claims here, only to say that it's not quite true that "the unpaid staff have NO say in decisions about the budget, hiring, office allocation etc." The UPSO Council ˆ asked for a voice in hiring decisions and the result is that I am on the hiring committee for KPFA's first hire that is not "interim" in quite a few years.

    Two of the three elected staff members on the KPFA Local Station Board, Frank Sterling and Joy Moore, are unpaid staff and the KPFA Local Station Board makes recommendations for the most powerful position at the station, that of General Manager, which are then sent to the head of the Pacifica Foundation for a final decision.

    I'm adding this simply for the sake of precision. Much of the disempowerment of unpaid staff described here is accurate.

    Reply
    1. Mauri Black

      Peace Ann…I am a K.P.F.A. listener and supporter and I did not know that much about the internal workings of the station. When reading your post and learning that you are a member of the Unpaid Staff Organization Council, I thought perhaps you might be able to answer two questions for me? When speaking about the subscriptions assistant position you say the position is "first hire that is not "interim" in quite a few years. Do you know why so few paid positions are offered? 80% unpaid and 20% paid staff seems a bit unequal to me. And last at the end of your post you said, " Much of the dis-empowerment of unpaid staff described here is accurate." May I ask, exactly which part of the article do you agree with as "accurate?"

      Reply
      1. Ann_Garrison

        Hi, Mauri, thank you for taking interest. Adrienne has answered most of your questions. And it would be easier for me to say that I agree with almost all of what's said here except that I'm not sure JR isn't getting "due process." But due process often sucks. Oftentimes it seems to mean legal representation if you can afford it. Last year the Sheriff of San Francisco was suspended from office, without pay, and he and his wife then went through a nearly year-long administrative legal proceeding that might be called "due process," with three pro bono lawyers by their side until he was reinstated. But, if those three lawyers hadn't stepped up and offered to work pro bono, or with an agreement to work without payment unless and until the Sheriff was reinstated with back pay – as he was – he would not have gotten his "due process." How "due" is that, really?

        With regard to JR's suspension, I'm not sure what "due process" means because I don't know how the CWA complaint against JR is proceeding through the Pacifica Foundation or the Pacifica National Board, and/or what criteria are being used to evaluate it, aside from the amount of public pressure being applied by CWA and its supporters and by JR and his.

        Reply
  2. Adrienne Lauby

    Hi Mauri,
    KPFA has many paid positions, probably more than most radio stations these days. The 80% to 20% figure does seem out of balance, but we actually have more salaried people than we can pay for, given the current state of our budget and the national economy. We have very little turn over so there are few openings.

    Of course, the money could be spread around more, with more people getting a little bit. There was a decision before my time ago to give some people enough money for a living wage and benefits, rather than trying to give many people a very part time salary. There is something to be said for both concepts.

    Reply
  3. Seamus

    Maybe it’s not racism. SFBayview put up a video of the fellow yelling at two police officers who stood with their arms folded. JR(?) then got more agitated and more close to the officers and the officers arrested him. I think the JR fellow has an anger management issue.

    Reply
  4. dondebar

    You should read how the current board majority treated te Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee (USOC) at WBAI when they took over in 2009 – they completely busted the union, abrogated the contract and fired whomever they wanted without process – not just due process, but ANY process. Noone from the other stations tood with us, but instead sided with their political bloc on the board. “If they come for me in the morning…”

    Reply
    1. Seamus

      Thanks for the reply. What you’re describing is a larger issue than what I noticed. I just watch the JR person pick a fight with some police officers, minding their own business. And, the JR fellow had the temerity complain about it. I’ve worked with people like that. It isn’t fun.

      Reply
  5. Fox

    I’ve hear the “Minister of Information”‘s contributions on KPFA and the station is better off without his work. Getting upset because a white person received an award during Black History Month is just insane.

    Reply
  6. Glenna

    The postings above are full of basic factual errors, anti-union crap, and major misunderstandings of what is happening at KPFA.

    Just for starters, Yoshida is a manager and not in the union. Lilley wasn’t being given an award, she was going to do a benefit talk for KPFA, before JR started attacking her and others on the air.

    The union at KPFA represents paid staff because Pacifica legally undermined unpaid programmers back in the 90s. The vast majority of KPFA’s programmers, paid and unpaid, work in solidarity and for the good of the station. The background is here:
    http://www.kpfaworker.org/kpfa-labor-history/

    JR definitely has an anger management problem, constantly picking fights with workers at KPFA – both paid and unpaid, and especially women. A woman of color who organized a KPFA benefit a few years ago was also publicly attacked by JR, resulting in a lawsuit.

    Reply
  7. Art

    Here’s what really happened re KPFA’s union: “In the mid‐1990s, Pacifica management made it clear they intended to get tough with KPFA’s union. Pacifica management hired an anti‐union consultant to fight the existing union, United Electric workers (or UE), which represented KPFA, WBAI and KPFK staff. At KPFA, while unpaid staff were not dues‐paying members of the union and were rarely were active in it, they had some protections under the contract, such as reimbursement and grievance rights.

    “Pacifica went to the National Labor Relations Board to challenge the unpaid staff’s rights. The NLRB made a ruling, which remains in effect to this day, that unpaid staff be excluded from the union. (You can read the ruling here.)

    “Later, in 1999, Pacifica also hired armed guards, locked the staff out of KPFA and piped in programming from afar. After more than 2 weeks, staff and community solidarity forced the network to back down and reopen the station.

    “By the mid 1990s, many Bay Area manufacturing businesses had closed and UE’s membership base had shifted to Southern California; the closest local was in Los Angeles. When the UE contract expired, KPFA’s paid staff decided they needed a union that was better positioned to help them fight Pacifica. With the support of UE, and after the old contract had expired, they chose to organize with the Communications Workers of America Local 9415, which had a thriving local in the East Bay and represented thousands of other Bay Area workers.

    “In 1997, groups of unpaid staff attended a series of meetings with CWA representatives, who offered to represent the unpaid staff, to the extent legally possible. However, at that time, not enough unpaid staff members were interested in joining the union.

    “In spring 2012, Pacifica’s ruling majority hired a legal consultant, Jackson Lewis, which the AFL-CIO calls ‘the nation’s number 1 union-buster.’ After thousands of letters from listeners and staff, resolutions from local station boards, and a series of picketlines in front of Pacifica’s National Office, board members finally voted to “wind down” its work with the union-busting firm.” (http://www.kpfaworker.org/kpfa-labor-history/)

    Reply
  8. Frank LeFever

    Despite what Don “Debar” says, there never was a union called “USOC” at WBAI. The acronym stands for “Unpaid Staff Organizing Committee”. The “committee” never organized a union or anything else that achieved an endorsement by a vote of all the unpaid staff.

    Reply
  9. habwwe

    A little Kujichagulia may be in order! Lots of low-power fm available, may be time to hit the "Self-determination" button on the dial. Lots of social-channels also available…Ignite the Power!

    Reply

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