The National Association of Manufacturers announced yesterday that it is forming a Council on Union-Free Environment.
"This is probably not the most earth-shaking type of press conference that is forming a Council on Union-Free Environment.
"This is probably not the most earth-shaking type of press conference that ever occurred," observed association president Heath Larry in disclosing the newest venture of the NAM, an alliance of 13,000 manufacturers and related businesses that never has enjoyed particularly cozy relations with organized labor.
Unlike most other groups with the word "environment" in their title, the council will not be an "activist" or "adversary" organization, said Larry and the council's co-chairmen, Arthur C. Prine Jr. of R. R. Donnelley and Sons, a large Chicago printing firm and Edward J. Dowd Jr., president of the Central Piedmont Employers Association in Charlotte, N.C.
Instead, it will seek to create a climate for healthy employer-employee relations without need for "third-party intervention," they said.
While "third-party intervention" clearly meant unions, Larry repeatedly denied - even before the question was raised - that the council would be a "union bustling" organization.
"This is not, no matter what some may say, this is not a union-busting organization." said Larry, a former chief labor negotiator for the United States Steel Corp.
Larry said the name was chosen mainly because of the acronym that the initials formed. "Take a cue, you know, CUE." he said.
The council, which will be funded by tax-deductible membership fees of up to $1,500 a year for non-NAM members will act as a research tool and clearing house to help members to improve their labor relations in a "union-free" setting Larry said.
The approach will be strictly "positive," he explained, adding. "Unions don't organize employees; managements do by their mistakes.
Impetus for organization came largely from small businesses that are concerned about planned union organizing drives and the impact of labor law revision legislation now before Congress Larry said. No membership lists are available yet, he added.
The AFL-CIO busy organizing for its biennial convention in Los Angeles issued a one-sentence comment on the council. "The NAM has been trying to establish a union-free environment since the turn of the century." said AFL-CIO public relations director Albert J. Zack, "and we confidently predict they will have the same lack of success, at least until the next century."