Iam Getting Aggressive At Nwa

Checking it Out

Apr 3, 2003
NWA takes harder line with unions

5 members of the Machinists are fired

June 25, 2004


Northwest Airlines Inc. is getting tougher with its unions.

In the middle of contract negotiations with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the nation's fourth-largest airline has fired one of the union's leaders in Detroit and four other employees who were active with the union.

And last week the largest carrier in Detroit threatened to discipline and possibly fire members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association and the Professional Flight Attendants Association if they proceed with pickets that question the safety of Northwest flights, according to a letter the airline sent to the mechanics' union.

"It's ironic that they want to take constitutional rights away from us," said Bob Rose, president of AMFA Local 5 in Detroit. "They are dictating what we can do in our own time."

The unions are adopting hard tactics like picketing and work slowdowns in response to contract negotiations, while management is reacting to the union actions.

"These are hard times," said Darryl Jenkins, professor of airline management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "It's a classic pissing match."

"Neither side gets along with the other. I find the whole thing very upsetting," Jenkins said. "This is not a good way to handle differences."

The mechanics union is not negotiating a new contract this year, but will next year, he said. The union said it is planning to picket July 2 outside the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport to raise awareness of Northwest's practice of having overseas and third-party repair stations maintain its aircraft.

Detroit mechanics and flight attendants are expected to join the picketing.

"We have been beating the horse for a long time on the outsourcing issue," Rose said. "We see this as a safety issue. It's not just Northwest but the industry as a whole that is outsourcing."

The union contends maintenance performed in other countries is not up to the mark and poses a security and safety risk.

"Any suggestion that safety or security has been compromised at Northwest is both false and highly damaging to Northwest's business," Julie Hagen Showers, Northwest's labor relations vice president, wrote in a June 18 letter to the mechanics union. The letter was posted on the union's Web site Wednesday.

The picketing might violate the company's rule that employees not disparage the safety, security or quality of the airline's operations, she said. The action also could constitute using "public economic coercion" to get Northwest to scale back outsourcing, violating the Railway Labor Act, she said.

Northwest declined to comment Thursday.

Outsourcing and the downturn in the airline industry has resulted in more than 5,000 mechanics getting laid off or furloughed since 9/11. Major U.S. airlines outsourced 33 percent to 79 percent of their maintenance costs in 2002, according to a 2003 report from the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General.

Northwest's contract with its mechanics allows the Eagan, Minn.-based company to spend about 38 percent of its maintenance costs on outside vendors. Until recently, the company has been under that limit.

But this year it is bumping against the spending cap, the union has said.

Northwest uses ST Aviation Services Co. of Singapore to maintain some of its DC-10s and 747s. The company has emphasized that the facility is subject to U.S. regulations and has been used by the U.S. Navy and other airlines.

While the airline has merely threatened the mechanics and flight attendants unions, it has been more aggressive with the machinists union, which represents ramp workers, reservations agents and customer service agents.

The airline wants the union to take about a 2-percent cut in salary and benefits along with changes in work rules. The union wants higher salaries and benefits in line with other larger airlines.

Early this month, the airline terminated Steven Gordon, leader of Machinists Local 141, for engaging in union activities without permission. And on June 18, it fired four others for improper union-related activity, according to union officials.

"They fired him (Gordon)," said Robert DePace, president of the machinists union, the largest union representing Northwest reservation agents, baggage handlers, mail staff, customer service agents, skycaps and others. "They were doing union duties and they fired them."

Northwest verified that the five workers are no longer employed by the airline, but wouldn't comment further.

Gordon said he had informed Northwest about his union activity and there was nothing improper about what he and his colleagues were doing. "I am not worried. I am getting my job back," he said, adding that he would go through the union's grievance process with the company.

Gordon said Northwest wanted him to ask his members to stop pointing out minor maintenance-related problems that have delayed planes for a couple of hours.

In the past few months, union members have filed more than 100 complaints that Gordon said are related to safety issues.

Jenkins said this is a typical union tactic. "You will see more safety violations reported going into negotiations," he said. "I don't know if they are using this as a staller, but this is not the first time it has happened."

The TWU just settled with the Flight Attendants at SWA and the IAM is stepping up the pace at NWA.

Amfa has over 4 Contracts open. You see no activity at these locations to make the public aware of the contracts. You do see Amfa spending tens thousands of dollars in a failed attempt to organize AA.

Amfa is also attempting to work with their sister association to make the public aware of the outsourcing at NWA even though they allowed it to happen by inserting poor language in the current contract. I believe the time could be better spent at the other Airlines, which is doing the same thing. Like Alaska with the highest Percentage in Outsourcing or SWA which farms work outside the USA, Which they are currently in negotiations to extend the contract.

I do believe the Employees of all Airlines are in the fight of their lives to retain their gainful employment at the Airlines. Like the Steel Industry, which has seen the majority of their work, Outsourced. But I question AMFA’s logic in this picket. If they really cared about their employees than the lobbyist would not be so silent during the hearings in Washington D.C.

Now is the Time to step up get involved or we may all see our futures go down the Tubes!!!!!
Let's see, the IAM allows the farmout of NW's DC-10,747 aircraft to a Singapore "chopshop". This is one of the issues that caused the IAM to be decertified as the bargaining agent for NW's mechanic's+related. AMFA is picketing to get back what was given away by the IAM,and TWU boneheads like Kevin Gorremans(CIO)+Rick Mullings(TWUer) get on this board and spew a bunch of lies and deceit! If the IAM was still representing the mechanics at Northwest, there wouldn't be any mechanics at Northwest!

I wonder how much more we're gonna give in concessions on June 29 when Jim Little takes "ACTION"?!
Look out NWA management! The IAM will soon break out some snake t- shirts!
I can hear them in the NWA board room cowering with fear..."Not the snake t-shirts!! Perish the thougt!!.....Oh, the humanity!..."

:D :D :D :D
TonyB said:
Look out NWA management! The IAM will soon break out some snake t- shirts!
I can hear them in the NWA board room cowering with fear..."Not the snake t-shirts!! Perish the thougt!!.....Oh, the humanity!..."

:D :D :D :D
Nah Tony, the IAM organizers will probably go out, get associate members, and lease a building for the local they dream of...wait a minute, they wouldn't be that stupid would they?
When will AMFA ever learn? Picketing is such a waste of time and energy.
All they have to do to stop the outsourcing at NWA is surrender 20% of their pay, 50% of their holidays, 5 vacation days, shift diff., longevity, license pay in the shops, etc.
They should follow the industry leader,
Totally Worthless Union
Major U.S. airlines outsourced 33 percent to 79 percent of their maintenance costs in 2002, according to a 2003 report from the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General.

So that means, even if the TWU claim that AA outsources the least amount of maintenance in the industry is true, we are at no lower than 33%.

And BTW, I believe SWA and Continental outsource just as much as Alaska and they were both represented by the same union for over 20 years... the almighty International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO. But you TWU liars NEVER blame them for anything.