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Sat, Jul 05, 2003

PFAA Sues Northwest Airlines For Failure To Honor Contract

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 ever replaced.

"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.



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