Another Day, Another Airline Lawsuit
The Professional Flight Attendants
Association (PFAA) has filed a lawsuit to force Northwest Airlines
to honor the terms of the current labor contract covering the
airline's flight attendants.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central
District of California.
The lawsuit seeks an
injunction to force Northwest to permit union dues to be deducted
from flight attendants' paychecks. The lawsuit also seeks
compensation for the amount of dues and service fees PFAA has been
unable to collect since it replaced the Teamsters as the flight
attendants' collective bargaining agent on June 20, 2003.
Taking Your Medicine?
After that date, Northwest refused to make the
required payroll deductions, pointing to a "poison pill" contract
clause designed to erase this requirement if the Teamsters were
"The goal of this provision was to discourage
employees from ever replacing the Teamsters," said PFAA Interim
President Guy Meek. "That in itself is illegal. The Railway Labor
Act and subsequent case law have clearly established that labor
contracts are made between employees and the employer. The terms of
a contract cannot be changed when employees replace one union with
another, as happened in this case."
Jose Arturo Ibarra noted that PFAA recently reached
an agreement with the Northwest Airlines Federal Credit Union to
deduct union dues from accounts of flight attendants who belong to
the credit union.
More than 90 percent of
the flight attendants are credit union members.
"During this difficult period for our industry, Northwest
management and employees should be pulling together to help the
airline and increase passenger satisfaction," Ibarra said.
"Instead, management is alienating flight attendants by trying
to bust the union the flight attendants legally elected. Northwest
flight attendants have shown overwhelming support for PFAA since
the company cut off payroll dues deductions."
"Northwest flight attendants are customer-focused and safety
professionals. We want to assure the public that our differences
with Northwest management will not affect our dedication to
Northwest passengers," said Patti Lutz, PFAA member-at-large.