The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 69/No. 43           November 7, 2005  
Striking union at Northwest calls off vote on boss ‘offer’
(front page)
ST. PAUL, Minnesota— On October 20, leaders of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), which represents 4,400 striking mechanics, cleaners, and custodians at Northwest Airlines, called off a vote on a proposed offer from the airline. The union did so after the company added a clause to “protect” the replacement workers. The offer, which AMFA officials initially planned to present to the membership, had called for dismissing nearly 90 percent of the union mechanics with four weeks severance pay.

“This would allow the bosses to fire a union mechanic accused by a strikebreaker of harassment without any right to a hearing or arbitration,” said Ted Ludwig, president of AMFA Local 33, referring to the “scab clause” the company inserted in its offer. “Also it would prevent the union from filing charges against members who violated the union’s constitution by crossing the picket line, interfering in the internal affairs of our union.”

Northwest, currently under bankruptcy protection, is seeking to negotiate $1.4 billion in additional concessions from its workforce. The cuts include substantial layoffs, wage and benefit givebacks, and changes to work rules. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is now seeking to outsource senior flight attendants’ jobs on international routes.

In Detroit, some 80 strikers and supporters picketed the Northwest Airlines terminal October 23. In the afternoon, a caravan of 20 cars with slogans panted on boards supporting the striking mechanics drove around the departure platform slowing down traffic considerably.

That same day, some 100 mechanics, family members, flight attendants and others rallied at Macalester College here October 23 in a speakout organized by the Twin Cities Northwest Workers Solidarity Committee. “We’re still out, and we’re still determined,” said Mike Klemm, AMFA’s local and national strike captain. “It’s clear that Northwest never wanted to settle on a union contract, they were always looking to break our union, as a beginning movement to put down all the unions on the property…. That’s why we decided to fight.”

Guy Meek, president of the Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA), spoke about continued harassment by the company against flight attendants who log aircraft maintenance problems. Rebecca Johnson, 25, a customer service employee and member of the International Association of Machinists (IAM), said, “I’m proud to stand up with you. Maybe this will be a long battle, but we need to stick together, no one union can do it alone, it will take each of us fighting together to get what we deserve.”

Miguel Olvera a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789, also spoke, describing the two-year fight for the union and a contract at Dakota Premium Foods, a local meatpacking company.

Rollande Girard and Ilona Gersh contributed to this article.  
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