EDITORIAL: Labor unions take control of PR

In our main feature (p. 14) we look at how unions have asserted significant media power even in the face of falling membership levels. Despite their apparently reduced franchise, they have taken advantage of the tight labor market to increasingly call the PR shots when strikes are called or while negotiations are in full flow.

In our main feature (p. 14) we look at how unions have asserted significant media power even in the face of falling membership levels. Despite their apparently reduced franchise, they have taken advantage of the tight labor market to increasingly call the PR shots when strikes are called or while negotiations are in full flow.

In our main feature (p. 14) we look at how unions have asserted significant media power even in the face of falling membership levels. Despite their apparently reduced franchise, they have taken advantage of the tight labor market to increasingly call the PR shots when strikes are called or while negotiations are in full flow.

Placards are out. PR is in. The Delta Airline Pilots Association, for example, formed a charitable trust to give money to children's causes.

The union has also reached out to travel agents to persuade them of the pilots' point of view.

Companies are beginning to wise up to union's new PR power, with none learning its lesson harder than UPS, still reeling from the effect of the Teamsters' strike in 1997.

But as the US economy hovers precariously on the verge of, if not a recession, then a very uncomfortable period, the question is whether unions can retain their positive image in the media. With daily reports of massive layoffs at the country's major blue chips, articles are full of explanations of fiscal caution from top managers. So the next time a major union tries to plead its case to the media, it may not find so many sympathetic ears.

When a company can say it is trying to salvage the long term health of the organization (see Media Watch, p. 12), all the union's trump cards are not going to help the public and media see why it is trying to stop the company trimming its salary bill.





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