The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) is a labor union representing professional and non-professional employees in television, radio, film, and media production. A division of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), NABET represents about 8,000 workers organized into about 30 local unions ("locals").
The predecessor union of NABET, the Association of Technical Employees (ATE), was founded in 1934. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) formed the ATE as a company union, in an effort to prevent their employees from being organized by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). At that time the ATE first contract provided $175.00 per month and 48-hour weeks. In 1937 NABET expanded, covering independent radio and television stations, and in 1939 achieved a union shop clause. The ATE would soon expand to other radio networks, and by 1937, ATE also included independent radio and television stations.
The ATE would not stay under NBC control for long. It began an energetic organizing campaign, and in 1940 changed its name to the National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians (NABET).
During this period, NBC owned two national networks, designated Red and Blue. In the early 1940s the Federal Communications Commission ordered NBC to divest some of its holdings, and NBC sold the Blue network, which soon became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). NABET retained the right to represent the professional employees of ABC.
In 1951, in the midst of a jurisdictional dispute with the IBEW and looking for allies, NABET joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The CIO gave NABET a charter to organize all broadcast industry employees. To reflect this broadening of representation, the union changed its name to the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians and began to organize non-professional workers.
In 1952 Canadian radio, television and film workers were entered into the NABET fold.
Shortly after its affiliation with the CIO, the NABET-IBEW dispute came to a head over organizing the Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS). The CBS disagreement was brought before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The Board ruled in favor of the IBEW, which was given authority to organize CBS technical employees.
By 1960 NABET's independent contracts grew to 100.
In 1965, NABET expanded to include workers in the film industry.
In 1967 the Hollywood and New York City locals led a fight to strengthen the authority and autonomy of local NABET organizations. This dispute nearly destroyed the union, but resulted in constitutional changes that increased the influence and independence of the network locals.
In 1968, Canadian NABET locals achieved local autonomy followed in 1974 by full autonomy.
NABET led ABC national network employees through a strike in 1977. Again in 1987, the NABET workers struck, this time on behalf of the NBC national network. Throughout the late 1970s to the mid-1990s NABET continued to organize local networks and affiliate stations.
In 1993, through the efforts of International President James P. Nolan and International Vice President John S. Clark, NABET became affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). In 1994 NABET and CWA held a conference on the possibility of solidifying their affiliation with a formal merger. The conference was a success, and in 1994 NABET merged with CWA. The union once again changed its name, becoming NABET-CWA. NABET-CWA currently represents over 10,000 workers in the broadcast industry.
"NABET Your Union" has been the theme of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians almost from its inception in 1934.
Over the years, NABET has fought for and won benefits and wages for its represented members which include a union shop, 8-hour work days, vacations, holidays, sick leave, health insurance, overtime pay, pension plans, seniority, grievance and arbitration, workplace safety, and health. NABET is proud of its fine tradition of democracy and the servicing of its members by officers and staff whose roots are in the industry it now serves. Its current officers are Sector President Charles Braico (who succeeded James C. Joyce in June 2015) and Sector Vice President Louis Marinaro.