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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  13 Network Company Unions, October, 1933 On October 3, radio technicians in San Francisco began to organize themselves into an independent union via the IBEW. Initially announcing that it intended to organize Northern and Southern California radio technicians, the Association of Radio Broadcast Technicians (ARBT) sent a copy of their proposed bylaws and a code for a proposed eight-hour day, five day week to Sol Rosenblatt, deputy NRA administrator. Minimum salary demands were decided, ranging from $42.50 per week for technicians working on stations of 100 watts or less, up to $50 per week for workers on 50,000 watt stations (the most powerful stations). At the time, the ARBT claimed that it had as its members most of the approximately 120 radio technicians working south of Bakersfield, Ca., and another 70 working north of Bakersfield. There was also talk of the ARBT organizing technicians in the Pacific northwest. According to industry trade magazines, some 90 percent of Bay area radio technicians workers desired affiliation with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and left it up to the AFL to decide as to which jurisdiction they would fall under (either the IBEW and IATSE). Variety reported that this organizing effort was highly secret since NBC officials reportedly threatened to fire any technician who signed an AFL-affiliated union card. The NRA, however, was reported to have stopped NBC from making good on its threats. The following week, on October 9 in San Francisco, NBC proposed a company union strategy in an effort to stop the ARBT. The network organized a company union for its technicians, that eventually came to be called the Association of Technical Employees (ATE). As NBC made plans to expand its company union for technicians all over the country, San Francisco employees, many of whom had started the ARBT, selected officers and drew up a constitution to submit to NBC management. Catching wind of NBC’s action against the ARBT, the IBEW sent a letter to NRA deputy administrator Sol Rosenblatt requesting an opportunity to bring in the ARBT under its

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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13
Network Company Unions,
October, 1933
On October 3, radio technicians in San Francisco began to organize themselves into an independent
union via the IBEW. Initially announcing that it intended to organize Northern and Southern
California radio technicians, the Association of Radio Broadcast Technicians (ARBT) sent a copy of
their proposed bylaws and a code for a proposed eight-hour day, five day week to Sol Rosenblatt,
deputy NRA administrator. Minimum salary demands were decided, ranging from $42.50 per week
for technicians working on stations of 100 watts or less, up to $50 per week for workers on 50,000
watt stations (the most powerful stations). At the time, the ARBT claimed that it had as its members
most of the approximately 120 radio technicians working south of Bakersfield, Ca., and another 70
working north of Bakersfield. There was also talk of the ARBT organizing technicians in the Pacific
northwest.
According to industry trade magazines, some 90 percent of Bay area radio technicians
workers desired affiliation with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and left it up to the AFL to
decide as to which jurisdiction they would fall under (either the IBEW and IATSE). Variety reported
that this organizing effort was highly secret since NBC officials reportedly threatened to fire any
technician who signed an AFL-affiliated union card. The NRA, however, was reported to have
stopped NBC from making good on its threats.
The following week, on October 9 in San Francisco, NBC proposed a company union
strategy in an effort to stop the ARBT. The network organized a company union for its technicians,
that eventually came to be called the Association of Technical Employees (ATE). As NBC made
plans to expand its company union for technicians all over the country, San Francisco employees,
many of whom had started the ARBT, selected officers and drew up a constitution to submit to NBC
management. Catching wind of NBC’s action against the ARBT, the IBEW sent a letter to NRA
deputy administrator Sol Rosenblatt requesting an opportunity to bring in the ARBT under its


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