KSDS-FM deejay Ron Dhanifu has been working at San Diego City College’s jazz radio station since 1977 and served as its operations manager from that year through 1985. Dhanifu hosts music 25 hours a week. His co-worker Gary Beck has been involved with “Jazz 88” since 1974 and presents on weekday mornings from 9 AM until noon. With their considerable assistance, KSDS won a Jazz Station of the Year award from JazzWeek in 2014.
But according to the latest issue of California Teacher, Dhanifu and Beck are both employed at the signal as temporary workers. Dhanifu has been “rehired” no less than 12 times over the last decade. He receives no health coverage. Why? Because they’re classified as non-academic staff—a maneuver that the San Diego Community College District has been able to hang onto despite court challenges. This loophole allows the District to duck holiday pay, vacation pay, retirement benefits, employee rights, the works.
“I resent the system that has been set up,” Beck tells the magazine. “We’re not asking for a lot, just a level playing field.”
The California Federation of Teachers is pushing for legislation to correct this problem. State Assembly Bill 1066 would establish some ground rules preventing schools from perpetually tagging some employees as lifetime “independent contractors.” The Assembly is currently considering the proposed law in its Committee on Appropriations.
None of this seems to have dampened Dhanifu’s love of jazz and his job of bringing it to the people of San Diego. He is quoted in the San Diego Troubadour as follows:
“One of the reasons I can be here for so long at this radio station is the freedom, so to speak, of putting the show together, on your own merit – your own listening – your own ears. That’s one of the big plusses you really can’t find anymore.”
Seems like this kind of dedication should be rewarded with another plus: respect from his employer.