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Solidarity with Northwest strike!
Fight against union-busting assault is cause of all labor
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Northwest Airlines workers resist job, wage cuts
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 69/No. 34September 5, 2005


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New York City, Sunday, September 11:
Four Years Later: Resisting U.S. Rulers'
Global Assault on Workers and Farmers.

(front page/editorial)
Solidarity with Northwest strike!
Fight against union-busting assault is cause of all labor
Mechanics and maintenance workers on strike against Northwest at its Detroit hub

The entire labor movement needs to stand with the 4,400 mechanics, cleaners, and custodians on strike to resist a union-busting assault by Northwest Airlines.

Nothing in the union movement is more important today than organizing concrete solidarity in action to help the strikers beat back the company’s offensive.

The stakes are high. If the airline giant gets away with this attack on members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), it will deal a blow to the whole union movement and all working people.

Labor everywhere should put in practice the call to union members by International Longshore and Warehouse Union international president James Spinosa “to do everything in their power to help these workers in the struggle as if it were your own.”

Northwest has prepared its strikebreaking operation for 18 months, organizing a scab force of 1,900. The company seeks to cut half the mechanics’ jobs—for a second time—as well as to slash wages and benefits. They want to break the union and send a signal to the Machinists and flight attendants that they are next.

The bosses have blood in their mouths. The offensive at Northwest is part of a decade-long assault by airlines employers. They are driven by declining rates of profit and resulting cutthroat competition—the normal operations of capitalism.

The airline magnates are emboldened by union officials’ acceptance of the argument that workers must “sacrifice” in order to “save our airline.” But every giveback has only led to more and more concession demands. At United, American, USAir, and Delta, the bosses have used bankruptcy proceedings, or threats, as a cover to slash billions in wages and benefits and tear up pensions.

Every union and unionist in North America and worldwide should honor the Northwest strikers’ picket lines. Individual Machinists and flight attendants in many cities have been visiting picket lines. In a few instances, despite the IAM officialdom's refusal to extend solidarity, some Machinists members are not crossing picket lines. The pilots’ association at UPS said its members will not fly Northwest Airlines struck goods. Members of the Transport Workers Union at American Airlines have been walking the line in some cities.

To allow the bosses to use the strike to pit the IAM against AMFA over representing mechanics and other airline workers is the road to disaster for labor. The road to strengthening the labor movement and union solidarity is for workers to enlist their locals’ support for the strikers and help bring fellow unionists and others to reinforce the picket lines. Financial support and solidarity messages are needed. Two recent examples are messages sent by the Central Labor Council in Alameda County, California, and the Netherlands-based Aircraft Engineers International.

The way to stand up to the bosses’ unrelenting offensive is to use union power and broaden solidarity. A good example is the coal miners in Huntington, Utah, who on August 21 celebrated the gains they have made through two years of tenaciously fighting for a union and winning broad labor support.

To push back Northwest’s antiunion assault, the strikers need the active backing of the entire labor movement and other workers, farmers, and students. This is the time to act on the longtime slogan of the working-class movement, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
Related articles:
Northwest Airlines workers resist job, wage cuts
SWP candidates back Northwest strikers

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