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Rev. 1994

History of NABET-CWA
The Sector Level
The Rights of a Member



It is the purpose of this section to show present, new and prospective members the benefits of being a Union member and to explain why NABET-CWA is the best Union available to you.

NABET-CWA is a democratic organization and, as such, has an involved structure. Its effectiveness as a Union requires a certain involvement on your part. It is hoped that this section will explain that structure and your involvement to ensure that you and your co-workers reap all the benefits of the Union. We hope you will read this section with excitement and enthusiasm, for we are sure that before too long you will realize that NABET-CWA is one of the most important organizations that you have ever joined.

It is with pride that you have been asked to join over 9,000 broadcast and cable workers.


NABET-CWA - National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Communications Workers of America, is a Union organization devoted to aiding workers like you who are employed in the broadcasting, distributing, telecasting, recording, cable, video, sound recording and related industries in North America.

Our members include engineers, technicians, news writers, announcers, directors, clerical employees, photographers, traffic, communications, stage service, and other categories.


NABET-CWA strives primarily to give its members a sense of pride in their work and dignity in their work place. We are comprised of highly specialized professional workers. Our efforts are directed to steadily improving our status through the achievement of better working conditions and higher wages.


In the USA, NABET-CWA represents over 9,000 employees at ABC, NBC and over 100 private radio & TV, Film and Video Tape companies.

History of NABET-CWA

Before NABET-CWA, broadcast employees worked split shifts; there was no pay or time off for holidays; there was no overtime pay. The typical wage was $20.00 per week - $40.00 was BIG money!

In 1933, some 300 employees at NBC formed the Association of Technical Employees (ATE).

1934 First contract signed with the National Broadcasting Company. This contract had a wage scale of $175.00 per month - $260.00 (after 9 years' service). The work week was 48 hours.
1937 First contract spelling out our jurisdiction. First independent station joins unit.
1939 First union shop clause.
1940 ATE changed to National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians (NABET).
1941 First 8-hour day. Twenty-three (23) small stations under contract.
1943 Former NBC Blue Network was split off by court decree and became the American Broadcasting Company. NABET added a network to its contracts.
1951 Affiliation with Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Name changed to National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.
1952 Technical employees at Canadian Broadcasting Company join NABET.
1953 Canadian members affiliate with Canadian Labor Congress.
1960 The best contracts in the industry, with three major networks and more than 100 independent stations and employers.
1961 Canadian Television Network (CTV), which led to NABET organizing several large private stations.
1965 First Film local chartered.
1968 Convention gave Canadians autonomy to govern themselves by electing a Vice-President for Canadian Affairs. Dues rebates made available to all Locals, large and small.
1970 NABET organizes newly formed ETV facilities in Quebec and Ontario.
1974 NABET Canada granted international status and becomes fully autonomous. Conventions to be held every four (4) years.
1986 Every local, regardless of size, was entitled to at least one convention delegate.
1986 Became mandatory that each region be allowed to hold at least one Regional Advisory Board meeting per year at International expense.
1990 Canada acquires additional autonomy, including its seal.
1993 Affiliation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
1994 Merger with Communication Workers of America (CWA).
New name - NABET-CWA.



(1) Union Shop
(2) 7-hour day - 35-hour week
(3) Paid vacation and statutory holidays
(4) Lay-off and rehiring on seniority basis
(5) Differential pay for night work
(6) Discharge for just and sufficient cause only
(7) 12-hour turn-around period
(8) Late meal period penalties
(9) Grievance procedure, including arbitration
(10) Contract provisions for automation
(11) Pension Plans
(12) Overtime clauses
(13) Highest wages and best working conditions in the industry


In 1993, NABET and CWA began a one (1) year affiliation period to see if a long-term relationship was possible. In 1994, the affiliation was converted to a merger of the two (2) Unions, both of whom are associated with communications.

As a result of that merger, the following terms will be used and are defined:

International Communication Workers of America.
NABET-CWA Sector The former NABET, our autonomous part of CWA representing broadcasting and cable television workers.
Constitution The CWA International Constitution.
Sector By-Laws and Rules NABET-CWA's operating By-Laws and Rules of its Sector.
SEC NABET-CWA's Sector Executive Council.



NABET-CWA has three levels of operation: the Local level, the Sector level, and the International of CWA.

1. Democratic control by members. Policies are set by officials nominated and elected by the working members.

2. Sector conferences are held every four years. Each Local is entitled to at least one delegate. Two delegates are sent from Locals of more than 200 members, three delegates from Locals of more than 400 members, and one additional delegate for each 400 members, or major fraction thereof, over 600 members.

3. Any five or more qualified members may form a Local.

4. All Treasurers are bonded.

5. Audits are required annually and are mailed to each member. The Sector publishes an audit quarterly, which is sent to all officers.

6. Membership is open to any person employed or qualified for employment in the broadcasting, telecasting, recording, cable or allied industries, without regard to race, creed, age, sex, color or national origin.

7. No Local strike can be called without (1) the authorization of a majority in the unit by a secret ballot vote, and (2) the approval of the Sector Executive Council, or, in the case of the ABC or NBC Contracts, the Network Negotiating Committee.

8. Locals are required to hold general membership meetings at least once a year.


A voice in your Union. You can nominate the Sector President, Vice-President; Secretary-Treasurer and Regional Vice-Presidents; The Local President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Stewards and Delegates to conventions. You can also vote directly for all officers except the Sector President, Sector Vice-President and Sector Secretary-Treasurer, who are elected by delegates chosen by secret mail ballot by their constituencies.

The working Staff Representatives are appointed and usually come directly from the industry.

All Locals are entitled to help from experienced Staff in negotiating a contract.

All contracts must be ratified by the membership affected.

Contracts of comparable groups, stations and areas are available to you.

Regular receipt of NABET-CWA NEWS, the official publication of NABET-CWA.


The Union represents only employees in broadcasting and associated industries.

A truly democratic union - where you decide policies, what you want in your contract, when and if you strike.

Experienced Staff personnel from the Sector and the International who understand your problems are available to you at all times.

Management has a union. The National Association of Broadcasters represents many broadcast stations. If management feels the need of a Union - it is even more important for you.

The Sector Level

The functions of the Sector level are varied. Here are some of its responsibilities:

1. Contract - Responsible for and specializing in contract negotiations and handling of arbitration cases and the processing of grievances with top Management.

2. Research - Analyzes contracts, gathers data to back up Union demands, keeps up to date information on conditions in the industry and general information affecting its members.

3. Membership & Information - Responsible for and specializing in all aspects of membership in the Union.

4. Education - Training local officers, stewards and members in union administration, Union Management labor relations, contract and grievance handling, etc.

5. Public Relations - Responsible for keeping the public informed of NABET-CWA's position and views on issues concerning the Union's members, demonstrating that our views are in the public interest, and publishing the NABET-CWA NEWS for members.

6. Legal - Provides legal assistance and advice to the locals and their members, handles legal problems in grievances and arbitration cases, and the rights of members in these affairs.

In addition to the above, each local has access to a Staff Representative to assist the local officers, stewards and members with their day-to-day, on-the-job problems. This representative is always available, able and willing to assist and advise the Local.


The Sector President is the principal executive officer of NABET-CWA. He supervises all business and affairs of the Sector. He appoints individuals to assist him in his job. He chairs Sector Executive Council (SEC) meetings and the Sector Conference. He main-tains a liaison with other Union organizations. He is ultimately responsible for all collective bargaining agreements. He appoints and is responsible for Sector Representatives and all other Sector staff.

The Sector Vice-President is a part-time elective officer who is a member of the SEC. He acts in place of the Sector President in his absence or inability to act.

The Sector Secretary-Treasurer has custody of all records of the Sector. He acts as secretary to the SEC and carries out all their correspondence. He is also secretary of the Sector Conference and carries out the duties of that role. As treasurer, he is responsible for all monies and financial statements, and assures that funds are spent as directed by the SEC. He assists in financial planning.

Each Regional Vice-President sits on the SEC. He is responsible for the funds of the Sector that are spent in his region. He assists the efforts of the Sector Staff within his region in regard to membership and the servicing of existing locals. These positions are elected and part-time.

The Sector Executive Council (SEC), composed of the Sector President, the Sector Vice-President and the six (6) Regional Vice Presidents, is the supreme legislative, judicial and administrative body of the Sector, governed by the CWA Constitution, Sector By-Laws and Rules and the Sector Conference. The SEC levies assessments and fines. It also enters into labor affiliations such as with the AFL-CIO. The SEC grants and revokes charters to locals. It has control of funds. The granting or withholding of non-network strike sanction is also their responsibility. They are the judge of membership and the judicial appeal body of the Sector Union.

There is one aspect of the Sector level that has yet to be mentioned and that is the Sector Conference. The Sector Conference is the highest governing authority of the Sector Union. Its decisions are final and affect every member of NABET-CWA at every level, but may be appealed to the International of the CWA. Sector Conferences are held every four years and every local is represented, the number of delegates being determined by the size of the local.

Only a Sector Conference can amend the Sector By-Laws. It also elects the Sector President, Sector Vice President and Sector Secretary-Treasurer. It determines the Sector dues and disposes of other matters that warrant its attention.


The Local Executive Board (L.E.B.) is the head of a local for legislative, judicial, and administrative matters. It is governed by the CWA Constitution, Sector By-Laws and Rules and its own By-Laws. Within its jurisdiction is the setting of Local dues, subject to membership approval, and the levying of fines and assessments on its membership. It controls its own local funds and property. The Executive Board conducts all social and educational activities of the local and has the right to accept and/or disqualify local members in accordance with the CWA Constitution and Sector By-Laws. The Executive Board amends the local rules and keeps a check on the activities of the members.

The Local President is the principal executive officer of the Local. He supervises all business and activities of the Local and chairs local meetings. He insures that all members in his local abide by the By-Laws and Rules, and enforces the contracts of his local. He is the spokesman for his local and is responsible for maintaining a good image of NABET-CWA.

The Local Vice-President is the assistant to the Local President and acts in the place and stead of the Local President in the event of the latter's inability or refusal to act and succeeds immediately to the office of Local President in the event of the resignation, death or disqualification of the Local President.

The Local Secretary conducts the correspondence of the Local and gives notice of meetings and elections. He records the minutes of all meetings.

The Local Treasurer pays all bills when authorized by the L.E.B., and is responsible for keeping records of all financial matters of the Local and for the processing of membership applications and address changes. He also handles the banking of all monies and securities of the Local. He lends financial advice to the L.E.B. when required. The person who holds this position must be bonded.

The office of Local Secretary and the office of Local Treasurer may be combined into one office, Local Secretary/Treasurer. This is optional with each local.

The Stewards are the backbone of the Union. They are the link between membership and the Union Executive. Their duties are to enforce the Constitution of the Union and the Sector and Local By Laws, and to police the current collective agreement. They must investigate any violation of the contract that they or any of their constituents notice and report such violations to the Grievance Committee for processing under the grievance procedure. It is also their duty to inform and educate all members of the unit in regard to all events and activities, and make available all bulletins and notices designated for the membership. The Stewards must council their constituents on matters pertaining to employment, working or Union conditions. They are responsible for Union morale and ensuring that the member practice good Union principles.


The members are the base of the Union. It is their responsibility to ensure that all officers are performing in a manner that is beneficial to the membership. It is also the duty of members to attend all general meetings and to conduct themselves in a manner as not to discredit themselves or their fellow Union members.

The Rights of a Member

As an active member in good standing of NABET-CWA, you have the right to attend all Union meetings, vote on all motions and in all referendums, vote in all elections, and participate equally with all other members in Union affairs. You have the right to petition for any changes you may desire, under the terms of your Local By-Laws and the NABET-CWA By-Laws and Rules. You have the right to seek redress of any grievance through the grievance procedure. You may seek Local or National office on equal terms with any other member. You may, if you so desire, seek the office of delegate to Conferences of the Union. As a member, you, together with your fellow members, are the Union. It is and will be what you make it.


The basic rules for Local meetings are outlined below, as provided in the Sector By-Laws and Rules. A Local may conduct more general meetings than outlined, but never less than one (1) each year.

The Local Secretary records minutes of these meetings in addition to all others which may be held and forward copies to the following:

(a) Sector President

(b) Sector Secretary-Treasurer

(c) Regional Vice-President

(d) Executive Board Members

A quorum for the general membership meetings is established in the Local By-Laws. The quorum may be a percentage or a fixed number of Local or Unit membership. Roberts' Rules of Order are used for the purpose of conducting an orderly meeting.


Any person employed or qualified for employment in the broadcasting, telecasting, recording, cable and allied industries, is eligible for membership.

No person is eligible for membership who believes in, advocates or teaches, the overthrow of the U.S. Government by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional method.

Application for membership is made on a form approved by the Sector Executive Council and is turned over to the Local Secretary who in turn forwards them to the Sector Secretary-Treasurer.


An applicant for membership shall become a member when approved at a meeting of the Local Executive Board and upon payment of the appropriate initiation fee and dues. The name of each member accepted shall be included in the minutes of the Local Executive Board. If no Local exists having jurisdiction over the applicant, such applicant shall become a member and assigned to a Local in accordance with Policy established by the SEC.

"(The initiation fee referred to in this Section shall be deemed to be paid if a partial payment has been received and arrangements to pay the balance have been made pursuant to Local By-Laws.


It is the responsibility of each individual member to:

(1) notify the Local Secretary of a change of address;

(2) notify the Local Secretary of a change of employment - from one station to another within the Local;

(3) notify the Local Secretary of a change of employment which will take the member to another Local - the member shall be transferred and initiation fee in the new Local will be waived;

(4) notify the Local Secretary of his or her withdrawal from the industry or engagement in a job in the industry beyond the scope of the Union to represent him or her in collective bargaining when the member doesn't wish to remain an active member - such members will receive a withdrawal card; preserving their right to return to active membership without payment for new initiation fee.


Initiation Fee

The initiation fee for membership in a Local Union, its method of payment, and any waiver thereof, shall be established in the By-Laws of each Local Union, and the entire such fee shall be retained by the Local Union. Initiation fees shall be waived initially for newly organized units.

Dues Determination

The dues of NABET-CWA shall be at the following rates:

A. 1-1/3% of total income (with a minimum of $15.00 per quarter), which shall include, but shall not be limited, to base pay, overtime and penalties. This amount shall be paid to the International Union either by check-off or on a quarterly basis. Severance pay shall not be included in the computation of total income.

B. Daily hires working for the ABC and/or NBC Networks shall pay minimum International dues of $50.00 per quarter, except if on dues check-off, Section "A" above will apply.

(c) For those members not on check-off, dues will be due no later than the 15th day of the beginning of each quarter (January-April-July-October) for all income earned in the previous quarter, including a statement of earnings, filed with the Local Treasurer/Secretary-Treasurer. This report shall be forwarded by the Local Treasurer/Secretary-Treasurer to the Sector Secretary-Treasurer quarterly within forty-five (45) days after the end of each quarter.


In lieu of providing staff and other services, the Sector Union refunds to Local #11, #16 and #53, upon request, sixty percent (60%) of all monies received by the Sector Union on account of their respective membership dues. Such monies are forwarded to the Local Union on a regular monthly basis.

Optional Dues Refund Plans

Plan #1 - The 55% Plan

To be eligible to participate in this option, a Local Union must agree to modify its dues structure to provide a dues rate of 1-2/2% of total income as described in Section 12.2A. All such dues will be International Dues and paid in the usual manner to the Sector Secretary-Treasurer. This Plan will be available to any Local Union which is in all respects in compliance with the NABET-CWA By-Laws and Rules, and which requests it by official actin of its Local Executive Board. A Local may withdraw from this Plan by an official action of the Local Executive Board requesting such withdrawal. Such withdrawal will be effective with the fiscal quarter following the request.

Under this Plan:

(1) The Sector Secretary-Treasurer will, on or before the tenth (10th) day of each month, refund to the Local Union fifty-five percent (55%) of the dues received from the members of that Local by the Sector Secretary-Treasurer during the preceding calendar month. The first payment will be for the month following a Local's acceptance in the Plan.

(2) The Local Union shall be responsible for the payment of the following expenses incurred by it in furtherance of its objectives:

(a) The handling of all grievances with employers from the time of filing through the arbitration process, except that NABET-CWA will pay the fees for attorneys of the Sector's choice, if use is approved by the Sector President, and the fees and charges of the arbitrator and any agency administering the arbitration.

(b) All reimbursement to members for time lost from their regular positions in the industry.

(c) Postage and any postage machines used by the Local.

(d) Office Space.

(e) Clerical employees, except as such may be supplied by the Sector at its offices.

(f) Office supplies and equipment, except that one time only, the Sector will reimburse the Local for money spent and vouchered on such items up to an amount equal to one (1) month's dues refund (average of first six (6) months on refund). This reimbursement will be available only during the initial year of a Local's participation.

(g) Telephones.

(3) NABET-CWA Staff will be made available at a Local President's request and the Sector President's approval at a cost to the Local of $75.00 per day, plus $1.00 for each member of the Union in the bargaining unit affected in excess of fifty (50) members, up to a maximum of $150.00. Notwith standing the above, any Local with fewer than thirty-five (35) members shall pay $50.00 per day. Staff may be requested for contract negotiations and grievance handling at the arbitration level. Staff may be supplied by the Sector by authority of the Sector President at no charge to the Local if he deems such assistance is required by the special circumstances at the time. Each such instance will be reported to the next Sector Executive Council Meeting.

(4) The Sector shall be responsible for expenses incurred in organizing and negotiations of an initial contract., even if within the geographical jurisdiction of a Local.

(5) The Sector shall pay the costs involved in committee meetings on Sector business as distinct from the business of any Local. Not included in above: Network Negotiating Committee, Network Coordinating Committee, Study Courses. Included: Sector Executive Council Meetings, Sector Regional Advisory Board Meetings.

(6) All questions as to the application of any provision of the Plan or any payment or repayment thereunder shall be decided by the Sector President. All such questions shall be reviewed by the Sector Executive Council at its next meeting following the decision. The Sector Executive Council shall have the authority to rescind or modify the decision to the extent such rescission or modification is possible.

(7) Any obligation owed by a Local to the Sector must be satisfied before any refunds will be issued. If the amount of the refund would exceed the amount of the unsatisfied obligation, the obligation will first be satisfied and the balance sent to the Local as that month's refund. If any obligation of a Local other than obligations involving funds such as furnishing necessary financial reports is not satisfied as required either in this Plan or in the CWA Constitution and/or these By Laws and Rules, then fifty percent (50%) of the refund will be transmitted until the obligation is satisfied.

Plan #2 - Other Possible Plans

In addition to Plan #1 set forth above, the Sector Executive Council shall have the authority to adopt and provide for the implementation of other plans to grant a refund of dues and/or a modification in dues structure in respect to any Local Union under such terms and conditions as it may determine are consistent with the needs or circumstances of the NABET-CWA or its Locals.

You Must Know Your Agreement

Your Collective Bargaining Agreement is the members' Bill of Rights. It outlines:

- Rates of pay.

- Conditions of work.

- Jurisdiction.

- AND how you go about talking up and adjusting any violation of the Collective Agreement.

Your job as a member of NABET-CWA is to see that the Company and Union both live up to the letter and spirit of the Agreement. How well this is done depends on your knowledge of the Agreement.


- Be specific, state contract violation, dates, times, place and names.

- Observe and follow procedures and time limits as specified in your Collective Agreement.

- Forward two copies to Company.

- One copy to Sector Office.

- One copy to Local Union Secretary.

- One copy to member grieving.

NOTE: It is very important to write a detailed report of all facts surrounding the happening or cause of grievance, and this should be given to Local President or Grievance Chairman. This report should be more comprehensive than the grievance form submitted.



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