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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  11 than about $120,000 in payroll costs based on average wages. Such an added payroll expense did not pose quite the dire economic threat that the NAB predicted, given the fact that U.S. radio broadcasting (dominated largely by the national chain broadcasters NBC and CBS) expected to exceed $100 million in annual revenues in 1934. 12 A key victory here for the NAB was the NRA’s adoption of the argument that all broadcast employees on so-called special event programs be exempt from any NRA imposed maximum hour limitations. The NRA’s decision, in effect, gave broadcasters a legal means to pass financial responsibility for special programs onto its workers. However, far more important than wages, the proposed NAB codes submitted to the NRA on August 31 created the illusion of the radio industry support for independent unionism. By this point, the threat of AFL involvement (or another independent collective bargaining presence) seemed remote. The codes specified four detailed conditions of worker "freedoms" to guide collective bargaining at its member radio stations after implementation of the codes: 1) That employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference, restraint or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self organization, or in other concerted activities, for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection; 2) That no employee and no one seeking employment shall be required as a condition of employment to join any company union, or to refrain from joining, organizing, or assisting a labor organization of his own choosing; 3) That employers shall comply with maximum hours of labor, minimum rates of pay, and other conditions of employment, approved or prescribed by the President; and 4) The selection, retention, and advancement of employees shall be on the basis of individual merit, without regard to their affiliation or nonaffiliation with any organization. Nothing herein shall impair the constitutional right of employers to freedom in the selection, retention, and advancement of employees. 13 Radio technicians initially did not appear to protest the suggested codes in any way, initially. This despite the fact that the NAB appeared to organize the codes so that the largest (and most exploitable) group of its workers (the radio technicians) would be exempt from any major reductions in working hours or salary increases. It also should be noted here that the networks would later establish company unions that specifically barred membership in independent unions.

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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11
than about $120,000 in payroll costs based on average wages. Such an added payroll expense did
not pose quite the dire economic threat that the NAB predicted, given the fact that U.S. radio
broadcasting (dominated largely by the national chain broadcasters NBC and CBS) expected to
exceed $100 million in annual revenues in 1934.
12
A key victory here for the NAB was the NRA’s adoption of the argument that all
broadcast employees on so-called special event programs be exempt from any NRA
imposed maximum hour limitations. The NRA’s decision, in effect, gave broadcasters a legal means
to pass financial responsibility for special programs onto its workers.
However, far more important than wages, the proposed NAB codes submitted to
the NRA on August 31 created the illusion of the radio industry support for independent
unionism. By this point, the threat of AFL involvement (or another independent collective bargaining
presence) seemed remote. The codes specified four detailed conditions of worker "freedoms" to guide
collective bargaining at its member radio stations after implementation of the codes:
1) That employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through
representatives of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference, restraint
or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such
representatives or in self organization, or in other concerted activities, for the purpose
of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection;
2) That no employee and no one seeking employment shall be required as a condition of
employment to join any company union, or to refrain from joining, organizing, or
assisting a labor organization of his own choosing;
3) That employers shall comply with maximum hours of labor, minimum rates of pay, and
other conditions of employment, approved or prescribed by the President; and
4) The selection, retention, and advancement of employees shall be on the basis of
individual merit, without regard to their affiliation or nonaffiliation with any
organization. Nothing herein shall impair the constitutional right of employers to
freedom in the selection, retention, and advancement of employees.
13
Radio technicians initially did not appear to protest the suggested codes in any way, initially. This
despite the fact that the NAB appeared to organize the codes so that the largest (and most
exploitable) group of its workers (the radio technicians) would be exempt from any major reductions
in working hours or salary increases. It also should be noted here that the networks would later
establish company unions that specifically barred membership in independent unions.


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