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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  14 widening jurisdiction over sound recording and transmitting work in the U.S. (Talk of the ARBT had also encouraged NBC’s producers and announcers to consider unionization as well.) 14 And the issue of technician working hours continued to be a sore point. At the October NAB convention in West Virginia, a large share of the discussion reportedly surrounded the issue of wages and working conditions for the largest group of broadcast employees--the technicians. John Guider, NAB attorney and code counsel, reaffirmed the industry’s intent to fight the issue of higher wages and reduced work schedules demanded by organized labor groups. Falling back on a favorite NAB position, Guider said that the 48-hour technician work week was an "absolute necessity" since "stations must operate full schedule to serve the public" and that "broadcasters would suffer disastrously if shorter hours were invoked. " Guider later said that the industry was hoping for Roosevelt’s signature on the broadcast codes by October 14, barring unforeseen complications. NBC’s preemptive move to establish the company union ATE in October was successful, in that it stalled outside, independent unionization efforts of NBC’s technical employees by the IBEW or IATSE. Yet, what remains interesting is that the ATE, at least on the surface, seemed to fly in the face of the then still suggested NAB broadcast code barring company unions. At this point, the codes still had not been approved by the NRA. If it appeared to NRA officials that NBC’s employees desired to join the company union of their own volition, the company union structure would not have been in violation of NIRA Section 7(a). The NIRA language dealt only with the element of outright employer coercion, as the only just cause for barring company unions. Section 7(a) did not, for example, bar less overt management strategies to bar independent unionization. Such methods often included offering employees management incentives and inducements designed to subtly pressure them to accept the company’s position or employee’s representation plan, regardless of how self-serving it may have been. And if the majority of a firm’s employees wanted to join a company union, the NRA was relatively powerless to intervene legally under Section 7(a).

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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14
widening jurisdiction over sound recording and transmitting work in the U.S. (Talk of the ARBT had
also encouraged NBC’s producers and announcers to consider unionization as well.)
14
And the issue of technician working hours continued to be a sore point. At the October NAB
convention in West Virginia, a large share of the discussion reportedly surrounded the issue of wages
and working conditions for the largest group of broadcast employees--the technicians. John Guider,
NAB attorney and code counsel, reaffirmed the industry’s intent to fight the issue of higher wages
and reduced work schedules demanded by organized labor groups. Falling back on a favorite NAB
position, Guider said that the 48-hour technician work week was an "absolute necessity" since
"stations must operate full schedule to serve the public" and that "broadcasters would suffer
disastrously if shorter hours were invoked. "
Guider later said that the industry was hoping for
Roosevelt’s signature on the broadcast codes by October 14, barring unforeseen complications.
NBC’s preemptive move to establish the company union ATE in October was successful, in
that it stalled outside, independent unionization efforts of NBC’s technical employees by the IBEW
or IATSE. Yet, what remains interesting is that the ATE, at least on the surface, seemed to fly in the
face of the then still suggested NAB broadcast code barring company unions. At this point, the codes
still had not been approved by the NRA.
If it appeared to NRA officials that NBC’s employees desired to join the company union of
their own volition, the company union structure would not have been in violation of NIRA Section
7(a). The NIRA language dealt only with the element of outright employer coercion, as the only just
cause for barring company unions. Section 7(a) did not, for example, bar less overt management
strategies to bar independent unionization. Such methods often included offering employees
management incentives and inducements designed to subtly pressure them to accept the company’s
position or employee’s representation plan, regardless of how self-serving it may have been. And if
the majority of a firm’s employees wanted to join a company union, the NRA was relatively
powerless to intervene legally under Section 7(a).


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