The University of California (UC) has dismissed objections by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union to UC management's hiring of Hill & Knowlton to spin its labor record. UC's Executive Director of Systemwide Labor Relations, Howard J. Pripas, did not respond to the specific concerns raised by AFSCME, such as H&K's work for the tobacco industry, instead praising the PR firm. "Hill & Knowlton," Pripas wrote, "is one of the most well-known and well respected firms in the world." After AFSCME went public with its concern, H&K's Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Thorne, wrote wrote to PR Week, stating that the firm has a policy "that we will not provide services in any way related to tobacco, anywhere in the world." The UC hierarchy, on the other hand, is opposing a policy that would ban the university from accepting tobacco industry funding of research projects.
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