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Difficulties organizing in TV

Photo caption: IA President Richard Walsh presents an award to Maurice Joseph Tobin.

Source: Del Ankers

President Walsh acknowledged organizing difficulties when he said: “whoever has a majority of the workers in any station may get the bargaining rights for its entire technical staff, including the projectionists.”  The IBEW and NABET usually were those with the majority.

The IA successfully won representation of electricians, lighting directors, prop workers, carpenters, wardrobe personnel, make-up artists and hairstylists, teleprompter operators and sound effect technicians.  The technical demands of television made organizing difficult, as IA members struggled to get training to win some of the better jobs in television.

President Walsh established a Radio and Television Department within the Alliance with the authority to create new broadcast units separate from existing IA locals.  He knew industrial organizing was the only way to successfully represent these workers.  The IA had already lost several representation elections to the traditional broadcast unions, and President Walsh rightly believed that the Alliance had to become more realistic and resourceful.

However, organizing was never easy, especially under the restrictive, anti-union Taft-Hartley Act.