The new president of United Press International informed employees of the wire service this week that UPI "is facing an immediate and critical situation" and must immediately obtain $1 million. He asked the Wire Service Guild to assist in short-term financing.

In a memo to the staff, Paul Steinle, who took over as president of UPI on Feb. 19, said that the first week of analysis by the new management team showed "that the financial condition of the company has been deteriorating steadily and that monumental efforts are needed to save it from liquidation."

Some UPI staffers speculated that management was asking for a salary cut in return for stock ownership.

Steinle said, however, that UPI was merely "trying to get them {the Guild} into the process."

He said that the company was going to have to borrow money, and that he was offering the Guild the opportunity to earn interest on a loan.

Steinle said UPI hopes to have a business plan completed in three to five weeks, and to use that plan to raise money through the sale of stock.

To ensure UPI's survival over the next three weeks, Steinle said, the wire service must pay past-due bills for critical items such as health care, rent and telephones.

Kevin Keane, president of the Wire Service Guild -- which picketed more than a dozen UPI offices yesterday to protest one year without a contract -- was skeptical about the offer to participate in financing.

He said, "If they want to talk, we'll listen. But I've never heard of anything like this."