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13 CHARITIES SEEK TO BREAK UNITED WAY `LOCK’ ON GIVING

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Thirteen regional charities have set out to break United Way's lock on employee giving at US WEST Inc. and other companies in a 14-state Western region.

For decades, United Way has had a monopoly on payroll-education plans at the Englewood-based telecommunications company - the state's largest employer - and other private companies.But the alliance of 13 charities and a local union say that should change.

"Employees should be able to choose where their charitable dollars go - it's that simple," said Rich Male, executive director of the Community Resource Center in Denver and organizer of the Alliance for Choice in Giving.

"US WEST is the largest private employer in the Western United States, yet it has failed to follow the lead of federal, state and local governments in opening up its payroll-education drives to non-United Way charities," Male said.

"Corporations like US WEST are discriminating against small non-profits that can't afford a minute of advertising time on TV during NFL football."

Company officials say they have no plans to open payroll giving to other non-profit groups and worry that doing so would cause an avalanche of requests from non-profit organizations.