Labor Union

National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET)

Website:

www.nabetcwa.org/

Location:

Washington, DC

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(5)

Parent Union:

Communications Workers of America

President:

Charlie Braico

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) is a labor union for production employees in the television, radio, and film industries. The union was founded in the 1930s and merged with the large left-leaning union Communications Workers of America (CWA) in the 1990s and since has been a division of the CWA, which is among the most left-of-center labor unions and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO labor federation. The union is mostly referred to as the NABET-CWA and represents employees at news companies such as ABC and CBS as well as public radio such as National Public Radio (NPR). The union also represents Canadian broadcast employees and is also affiliated with the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC). [1] [2]

Background

What is now the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) was founded in 1934 as the Association of Technical Employees and began representing employees working in television, radio, film, and general production within such industries. In the early days of the union, it represented only employees who worked for the “Red” and “Blue” networks, which later became NBC and ABC, respectively. In 1937, the union expanded to cover independent radio and television stations, and in 1940, the union changed its name from the Association of Technical Employees to the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians. [3]

In 1951, the NABET affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and became an affiliate of the AFL-CIO when the CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor a few years later. In 1952 the union began representing Canadian broadcast workers, an affiliation that remains today with the union’s membership in the Canadian Labor Congress. [4]

By 1960, NABET held 100 independent collective bargaining contracts, and in 1965, the first film workers local union was formed under the NABET umbrella. In 1968, the Canadian members of the union gained local autonomy to collectively bargain and were granted full autonomy in 1974. [5]

CWA Merger

In 1993 NABET became affiliated with the Communications Workers of America and fully merged with the CWA in 1994, resulting in the union taking the new name of NABET-CWA and becoming a subsidiary of the CWA. [6]

The NABET’s merger with the CWA came at a time when the CWA expanded its ranks in the 1990s and 2000s by merging with several smaller national unions that also included  The Newspaper Guild (TNG) (now styled as NewsGuild-CWA), representing print journalists; the International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE) (now referred to as the Industrial Division, CWA), representing electrical industry workers; and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), representing flight attendants. The NABET routinely issues joint statements with other former unions that are now departments within the CWA such as NewsGuild-CWA. [7] [8]

The parent organization of the NABET, the Communications Workers of America, has a reputation for being left-wing, even within the broadly progressive labor union movement. The union was the largest national labor union to support self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. [9]

Current Structure and Activity

National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) has been a division within the larger Communications Workers of America since 1994. The NABET-CWA arm of the CWA represents 10,000 of the over 650,000 employees within the larger CWA membership. The NABET-CWA is headquartered within the CWA building in Washington, D.C., and is led by a sector president who is a full-time union official and sits on the CWA executive board. [10]

NABET-CWA has 28 local unions under its umbrella. Each local union has its own elected membership and stewards, and each has its own contract that it enforces. Dues are charged to local union members in the form of a 1.67% fee assessed on employee’s paychecks. [11]

NABET-CWA also has a separate division called NABET-CWA Sports, which negotiates “master agreements” with ABC and NBC on behalf of sports production employees. [12]

In 2020, the NABET-CWA negotiated a back-pay settlement with CNN on behalf of workers who had been laid off when CNN terminated a subcontractor that employed some of the union’s members. The union had threatened to picket a Democratic presidential debate and the NABET-CWA had advised the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that it intended to picket the debate. After receiving a $76 million settlement from CNN, the NABET-CWA thanked the DNC and then-chair Tom Perez for “ensuring that this debate will proceed without the disruption of a labor dispute” and stated that “The Democratic presidential candidates demonstrated their commitment to working people by intending to honor the picket line.” [13]

In 2021 the employees of National Public Radio’s (NPR) digital media division covering content, design, engineering, support, and product management announced that they had voted to join the NABET-CWA as part of the union’s Local 31. The group’s statement on a union organizing Twitter account titled “we build NPR” stated that the employees were committed to promoting professional excellence as well as “DEI” (diversity equity and inclusion) within the workplace. [14]

Advocacy Activity

The NABET operates in coordination with the left-of-center political activities of its parent organization, the Communication Workers of America. The union opposes changes to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules changes regarding media ownership, and allowing more mergers within the industry stating that mergers result in “fewer jobs and less diversity of opinions in local and network television.” [15]

The union states that it will continue to oppose changes to FCC regulations and encourages its members to contribute to the CWA Political Action Fund (PAF) as it has not had an independent political arm since merging with the CWA. The NABET-CWA website also states that the political action fund exists to oppose the legislative efforts of business-friendly groups such as the National Association of Broadcasters and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [16]

The NABET-CWA has also endorsed the left-of-center pro-union PRO Act supported by Democrats in Congress. [17]

References

  1. “What is NABET-CWA.” NABET Local 53. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabet53.org/what-is-nabet-cwa.html ^
  2. “About Us.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/about-us ^
  3. “NABET History.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/nabet-history ^
  4. “NABET History.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/nabet-history ^
  5. “NABET History.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/nabet-history ^
  6. “NABET History.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/nabet-history ^
  7. “NABET-CWA and Newsguild Decry Violence Against Journalists.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/news/nabet-cwa-and-newsguild-decry-violence-against-journalists ^
  8. Communications Workers of America. “CWA History: A Brief Review.” 2015. Accessed July 31, 2022. http://www.cwa-union.org/sites/default/files/cwa-history-brief-review.pd ^
  9. Varney, James. “Do Reporters Know They’re Giving Money to Sanders and Clinton?” POLITICO Magazine. April 5, 2016. Accessed August 6, 2022. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-cwa-politics-213795 ^
  10. About Us.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/about-us ^
  11. About Us.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/about-us ^
  12. “Contracts.” NABET-CWA Sports. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwasports.org/contracts ^
  13. “NABET-CWA Negotiates Historic $76 million back pay settlement with CNN.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://cwa-union.org/news/releases/nabet-cwa-negotiates-historic-76-million-back-pay-settlement-cnn ^
  14. “We Build NPR.” Twitter Post. Accessed August 6, 2022.  https://twitter.com/webuildnpr/status/1386680140097363974 ^
  15. “About Us.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/about-us ^
  16. “About Us.” NABET-CWA. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/about-us ^
  17. “Winter Newsletter.” NABET-CWA. 2020. Accessed August 6, 2022. https://www.nabetcwa.org/system/files/nabet_news_winter_2020_0.pdf ^
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National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET)

501 3rd St NW
Washington, DC 20001