The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians–Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA) represents more than 10,000 workers in broadcasting and related industries. As a sector of our parent union, CWA, we have the support of another 650,000 members in telecommunications, newspapers, manufacturing, state and local government, nursing, policing and many other fields.
As technology and a bottom-line corporate mentality rapidly change in our profession, power in numbers is more important than ever. At NABET-CWA, we use collective bargaining, contract enforcement, job training, political activity and organizing to improve wages, working conditions and job security.
NABET-CWA headquarters is in CWA’s building near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Sector President, who serves full time, is elected by members every four years at the Sector’s Conference and represents NABET-CWA on the CWA Executive Board. The President appoints Sector Staff Representatives. NABET-CWA’s Vice-President is a part-time officer, also elected every four years.
All NABET-CWA local unions are assigned to one of six regions across the country. Each region has an elected Regional Vice-President (RVP) who serves a three-year term.
The Sector President, Vice-President, and the six RVPs form the Sector Executive Council (SEC), which meets at least three times a year. Officer elections and proposed NABET-CWA By-Law changes are decided at the Sector Conference, held every four years. Every NABET-CWA local is represented at the conference, with the number of delegates determined by the local’s size.
NABET-CWA has 28 locals with their own elected officers and stewards. Some locals represent members at several employers, with each unit having its own contract. Local officers include a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, who are elected by the membership. Stewards at each workplace help enforce the contract and vigorously pursue violations
Dues and Initiation Fees
The NABET-CWA Sector and its locals are funded by members’ dues, which are 1.67% (1.33% insome locals with a local dues assessment) percent of gross wages. Locals receive between 55 and 65 percent of the revenue in the form of a rebate.
The dues structure can only be changed at the Sector Conference through By-Law revisions or, in the case of local dues, by a vote of the membership in a local. The initiation fee for each local is set by the local By-Laws and these fees are retained by the local. Initiation fees are waived initially for newly organized units.
As an active NABET-CWA member in good standing, you have the right to attend all union membership meetings, vote on all motions and referendums, vote in all elections, run for office 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.
When the union and company sit down to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions, it is called collective bargaining. NABET-CWA members elect co-workers to act as a negotiating team with the help of an experienced Staff Representative. The give and take between the union and management ultimately produces a tentative agreement for members to vote on, after reviewing it and asking questions. If approved, the contract becomes a legally binding document.
CWA’s research, media and legal departments support the negotiating team by generating important data about company finances, structure, shareholders and other information that can be invaluable at the bargaining table.
Most contracts spell out a grievance and arbitration process for resolving disputes between the union and company. Under the grievance process, problems generally are brought to the attention of either side in writing within a set time frame. While each contract is different, most provide a period for the parties to resolve the dispute between themselves. If that doesn’t work, the next step is usually arbitration.
In arbitration, the union and company present their arguments before a neutral party who will make a binding decision. Similar to a court proceeding, both sides can present evidence and testimony and cross-examine eachother’s witnesses. The company and union agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision and split the fees involved.
NABET-CWA members involved in grievances have the help of their national union Staff Representative, up to and sometimes including arbitration. Union lawyers assist in preparing and arguing cases that go to arbitration.
The grievance/arbitration process is one of the fundamental differences between a union and non-union workplace. It means that employees who have disputes with a boss can pursue a fair and neutral resolution, rather than having to accept the company’s decision without recourse.
When the Federal Communications Commission tried to change media ownership rules to allow giant media corporations to get even bigger — meaning fewer jobs and less diversity of opinions in local and network television — NABET-CWA helped lead the successful fight against the FCC.
Unfortunately, that’s a battle that we will have to continue to fight, along with the constant need to be on guard against legislation that hurts working families and takes away workers’ rights.
That’s why political action has become an important part of our mission at NABET-CWA. Since merging with CWA, we encourage our members to contribute to the union’s CWA Political Action Fund (PAF) . PAF funds are vital to supporting candidates and legislation that look out for workers. Employer groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Broadcasters spend millions to electpoliticians and pass legislation that serves them at the expense of workers. We have to level the playing field.
Through PAF, we fight for issues specific to our industry and issues that affect usall— health care, living wages, job safety, retirement security and more. Today, PAF and the political action it funds are more important than ever.