Administration rehires union protected station broadcast engineer
Humboldt State University has rescinded the lay off of one KHSU employee out of the seven laid off in April.
Kevin Sanders, a full-time employee who primarily works in Information Technology Services was rehired after his union, the California State University Employees Union, pushed back against the university. Sanders was and is the National Public Radio affiliate’s only broadcast engineer.
“Kevin is employed, working mostly in the Information Technology Services area, but is available to assist with broadcast engineering for KHSU if the need arises,” HSU Communication Officer Grant Scott-Goforth said in an email.
“Humboldt realized over the last several months that the chief engineer of KHSU is a critical employee and that the station could not operate, even in its reduced form, without him.”
Humboldt chapter president of CSUEU Steve Tillinghast said in a press release that HSU management did not expect the Union to care.
“Or perhaps they did not even realize that one of the employees in the group they terminated was part of a Union and that they would be held accountable,” he said. “Humboldt realized over the last several months that the chief engineer of KHSU is a critical employee and that the station could not operate, even in its reduced form, without him.”
KHSU runs with the help of Chico’s North State Public Radio station to air its programming off and on since April.
At the beginning of August HSU signed a short-term interim agreement with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento for programming assistance with KHSU Public Radio. The agreement will keep KHSU running till the end of October.
According to a press release, “the agreement allows KHSU to continue airing national and state programming as the University considers various approaches for KHSU’s future.”
HSU will be assessing ways to ensure KHSU aligns with the university’s teaching missions after an advisory audit report. The audit report, ordered by the previous HSU president Lisa Rossbacher, found the station lacking in the opportunities it was supposed to provide for students.
The report suggested that over time the station had evolved from an exclusive student training ground to primarily a community servicing station. The report said the university should assess student involvement at KHSU and determine whether or not to develop more opportunities for students through “employment, internships, academic programs and coursework.”
The advisory team did not, however, suggest laying off employees as an answer to any suggested shortcomings.
For now, the university is considering joining the discussion of a three-way regional partnership with the Chico and Sacramento stations.
This partnership could bring about certain opportunities such as a Public Service Operation Agreement, which would formalize cost-sharing for programming and management.
Structural organization was also an area of improvement listed on the KHSU audit.
HSU President Tom Jackson wants to gather input from faculty and students to learn more about their interest in KHSU before committing to anything further.
Not only did the administration misjudge the opinion of the union involved, the administration permitted a pledge drive within days of the mass firing — effectively committing fraud as the pledge drive pushed “local programming” which is non-existent now. Wruck and Rossbacher and Fretwell should be held accountable for this fraud.