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Report: Northwest, Flight Attendants Reach Tentative Labor Agreement

Deal Includes $182 Million Claim Payout

Could the third time -- finally -- be the charm? Negotiators with the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants at Northwest Airlines, and officials with the bankrupt carrier say the two sides reached a tentative agreement Thursday on a new contract.

"Over the past several days, we have engaged in many hours of intense negotiations with the AFA on a new collective bargaining agreement. We are pleased to have reached this tentative agreement, which would give our flight attendants a $182 million unsecured claim in the airline's bankruptcy," said Mike Becker, Northwest Airlines senior vice president-human resources and labor relations.

Officials at Northwest aren't popping champagne corks just yet, however. While AFA officials tell Reuters the deal achieves the $195 million in cost savings requested by Northwest, and does so with provisions considered more acceptable to union members... much the same was said about the two previous TAs between flight attendants and the airline.

As Aero-News reported, those TAs were rejected with union members. So, what's different this time around?

"The agreement also includes additional contract modifications that Northwest believes will improve the flight attendants' work environment," said Mike Becker, Northwest Airlines senior vice president-human resources and labor relations. "A ratified agreement would allow our flight attendants, along with our other contract and salaried employees, to participate fully in Northwest's profit sharing programs."

Perhaps most importantly, the deal also protects a $182 million bankruptcy claim filed by AFA on behalf of flight attendants... which could result in as much as $18,000 per member in payouts, according to Reuters.

As with the previous tentative agreements, the deal will have to be approved by AFA leaders before it can be sent to the membership for a vote. Flight attendants had threatened to strike the carrier, in protest of the contract imposed on FAs at Northwest last year. So far, the courts have ruled against strike efforts.

Northwest states regardless of how the contract deal works out, Northwest aims to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June.

FMI: www.nwa.com, www.nwaafa.org

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