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Tue, Aug 01, 2006

Northwest Flight Attendants Reject Second Tentative Agreement

Passengers Warned To Expect "CHAOS"... Or Worse

New union... old vote. For the second time in as many attempts, flight attendants at Northwest Airlines voted to reject a tentative agreement aimed at cutting costs for the bankrupt airline... by cutting pay.

Representatives with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) said Monday a majority of flight attendants voted to reject the agreement, by a margin of 3,266 to 2,637.

"Our members refuse to watch more than 40 percent of our wages and benefits get funneled into company profits and executive bonuses. It is simply not necessary and will not be tolerated," said Mollie Reiley, AFA-CWA Interim Master Executive Council President.

As Aero-News reported, AFA-CWA reached the tentative agreement 10 days after being elected as the new collective bargaining representative for Northwest flight attendants, replacing the Professional Flight Attendants Association. Prior to AFA-CWA entering negotiations, a federal bankruptcy judge ordered that cost savings must equal at least $195 million for five years. AWA also states the court established the terms of the previous tentative agreement as the starting point for the latest round of bargaining.

The latest vote opens the door for the imposition of a new contract penned by Northwest. Under a previous court order, that contract is set to be imposed Tuesday... over the objections of the AWA.

"The tentative agreement was a product of nearly around-the-clock negotiations involving substantial compromise on the part of both parties," said Mike Becker, senior vice president of human resources and labor relations. "We reached a consensual agreement with the new union recently chosen by our flight attendants and had hoped that Northwest flight attendants would ratify the agreement."

Becker added Northwest "must continue to move forward with its restructuring efforts. As previously approved by the court, we now are implementing new contract terms and conditions for our flight attendants which are consistent with the judge's order and with the March 1 tentative contract agreement which was not ratified. This action will result in the required $195 million in annual savings."

AFA's Reiley said if Northwest implements their contract... that passengers will likely be greeted with "CHAOS" -- or "Create Havoc Around Our System," the AFA-CWA's trademarked strategy of targeted work actions using random, unannounced strikes.

"Our members have spoken: these drastic cuts to our pay, benefits and work rules are simply unacceptable," said Reiley. "While we will attempt to go back to the negotiating table with the company, we continue preparing for CHAOS."

The union states that if Northwest management goes ahead and imposes contract changes without the flight attendants' consent, AFA-CWA can either call for CHAOS, or, an all-out strike... which would likely cripple the airline, and cause 'chaos' throughout the entire air travel network.

Stay tuned. Things could get real interesting, real soon.



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