Gropper Says Will Rule "In Near Future"
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
03.01.06 1730EST: We're still awaiting word if Judge Allan Gropper
will rule today on whether Northwest Airlines can toss aside its
current contract with the airline's pilots in order to force
concessions on them. However, it was just announced the
Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA) has reached a
pay-cut deal with the airline, that gives Northwest all of the $195
million in annual savings it had been seeking.
In exchange for the concessions, Northwest dropped its demand to
use a greater number of non-US flight attendants on overseas
flights -- which had been at the heart of the PFAA's arguments.
The agreement must now be accepted by union leaders, and then to
a vote by the 9,700 members of the union.
"Certainly, Northwest management must comprehend the difficult
situation this concessionary agreement puts our members in, and as
such we hope that they recognize that now they must treat all
employees with great respect in order to heal the damage the
bankruptcy process has inflicted upon our carrier," PFAA President
Guy Meek said in a prepared statement.
Before today, PFAA and
the Northwest branch of the Air Line Pilots Association had
presented a united front against Northwest, each vowing to strike
if their demands were not met. On Tuesday, the pilot's union voted
to authorize a strike if Judge Gropper ruled against them.
That ruling has yet to happen -- and at this writing,
negotiations continue between pilots and airline management. Judge
Gropper has stated he will rule "in the near future" on tossing the
contracts out -- so now, we wait.
On Tuesday, pilots at
bankrupt Northwest Airlines voted to authorize their union leaders
to call a strike if a federal bankruptcy judge allows the airline
to impose "onerous working conditions," in the words of the Air
Line Pilots Association.
The vote came one day before Judge Allan Gropper is to rule
whether to allow Northwest to toss its current contracts with its
pilots and flight attendants, in the name of forcing concessions
upon them the airline maintains it needs to emerge from Chapter
That ruling is expected any moment now... unless Gropper decides
to postpone his ruling, as he has done twice before.
In a move to put pressure on airline management, the strike was
authorized by 92 percent of voting pilots.
"We continue to meet with Northwest management in an effort to
reach a consensual agreement, but the outcome will be decided by
management's actions at the negotiating table," Northwest ALPA
Chairman Mark McClain said in a statement to Reuters. "Our goal is
not to strike, but we will retain all legal self-help options if
management forces our hand."
As was reported in Aero-News,
Judge Gropper has twice delayed ruling on allowing the airline to
impose concessions, preferring to give all parties involved time to
work out their problems amicably.
At least one analyst expects the unions to reach deals with
Northwest before the judge rules.
"They will reach a deal with management," said airline
consultant Michael Boyd. "These are not wild-eyed, crazy people on
either side. These are rational people."
Northwest is also in talks with its flight attendants on a new