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Radio's New Deal: The NRA and U.S. Broadcasting, 1933-1935
Unformatted Document Text:  21 technicians and performers called for the RCBA to shorten work hours, and to raise salaries immediately. The IBEW, by then the most powerful independent broadcast technician’s union, insisted upon a 35-hour work week. 107 Indeed, the continued use of network company unions to frustrate IBEW organization of the U.S. broadcast industry, significantly threatened to undermine the NAB’s position. The IBEW charged that the NBC and CBS company unions (the ATE and the ACBT) were being used by management to block AFL organizers from gaining a foothold with the union technicians. Loyal network technicians, on the other hand, reportedly claimed that the IBEW was not qualified to represent them. The hearings were highly charged, and frequently contentious. Edward Nockels demanded that broadcasters observe the labor provisions of both the NRA codes and the spirit of the NIRA. Those supporting labor at the conference were bolstered in their arguments with the fact that 1934 had been a boom year for NBC and CBS. They suggested that broadcasters were in the best position ever to assume a higher payroll burden. In response, James Baldwin called upon other code authority members to accept no changes in the code at the time. He argued that broadcasters’ gross revenues should not be used to measure profits due to the high levels of costs broadcasters must face before reaching a profit. Baldwin cited Labor Department figures that he said showed the cost of living from December 1933 to June 1934 had climbed 5.2 percent. Average technician’s wages increased industry-wide by some 8.26 percent during this period. He also made the point that a total of 516 U.S. commercial stations had complied with the NRA provisions to date, and that on average the employee accident rate was much lower for U.S. broadcasting than for any other industry. The IBEW filed a lengthy brief with the RCBA. It stated that the radio industry was enjoying a boom and demanding that code-regulated wages be raised from $40 to 44, $30 to 33, and $20 to 22 in the three RCBA technician categories; all technician’s hours should cut to no more than 35 hours per week. The IBEW, anticipating the NAB’s argument that wage increases would drive smaller

Authors: Mazzocco, Dennis.
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21
technicians and performers called for the RCBA to shorten work hours, and to raise salaries
immediately.
The IBEW, by then the most powerful independent broadcast technician’s union, insisted upon a
35-hour work week. 107 Indeed, the continued use of network company unions to frustrate IBEW
organization of the U.S. broadcast industry, significantly threatened to undermine the NAB’s position.
The IBEW charged that the NBC and CBS company unions (the ATE and the ACBT) were being used by
management to block AFL organizers from gaining a foothold with the union technicians. Loyal network
technicians, on the other hand, reportedly claimed that the IBEW was not qualified to represent them.
The hearings were highly charged, and frequently contentious. Edward Nockels demanded
that broadcasters observe the labor provisions of both the NRA codes and the spirit of the NIRA.
Those supporting labor at the conference were bolstered in their arguments with the fact that 1934
had been a boom year for NBC and CBS. They suggested that broadcasters were in the best position
ever to assume a higher payroll burden.
In response, James Baldwin called upon other code authority members to accept no changes
in the code at the time. He argued that broadcasters’ gross revenues should not be used to measure
profits due to the high levels of costs broadcasters must face before reaching a profit. Baldwin cited
Labor Department figures that he said showed the cost of living from December 1933 to June 1934
had climbed 5.2 percent. Average technician’s wages increased industry-wide by some 8.26 percent
during this period. He also made the point that a total of 516 U.S. commercial stations had complied
with the NRA provisions to date, and that on average the employee accident rate was much lower for
U.S. broadcasting than for any other industry.
The IBEW filed a lengthy brief with the RCBA. It stated that the radio industry was enjoying
a boom and demanding that code-regulated wages be raised from $40 to 44, $30 to 33, and $20 to 22
in the three RCBA technician categories; all technician’s hours should cut to no more than 35 hours
per week. The IBEW, anticipating the NAB’s argument that wage increases would drive smaller


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