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Northwest, Attendants Reach Deal

July 18, 2006|From the Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The last holdout union at Northwest Airlines Corp. tentatively agreed to deep pay cuts and work rule changes Monday, bringing the troubled carrier closer to the labor savings it sought for three years.

The agreement came on the same day Northwest could have imposed the contract rejected by 80% of flight attendants last month. The Assn. of Flight Attendants had threatened job actions including a possible strike if that happened.

Details of the agreement weren't released, but Northwest said it got the $195 million in annual savings it sought.

Union leaders and rank-and-file flight attendants would have to approve the deal for it to take effect. Northwest said it expected the voting to end July 31. Approval would mean that Northwest could also implement new contracts already approved by pilots and ground workers.

The vote followed an intense round of negotiations that only began after July 6, when flight attendants dumped their old union to join the Assn. of Flight Attendants. The AFA had promised to fight for a better contract than the one flight attendants rejected in June.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 28, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
Northwest flight attendants: An article July 18 in the Business section about an agreement between Northwest Airlines Corp. and its flight attendants on pay cuts and work rule changes said the workers' union was the last holdout at the carrier. Northwest mechanics, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Assn., remain on strike.

At the same time, Northwest won major leverage when a bankruptcy judge gave it permission to impose terms on flight attendants Monday.

"It was down to the wire, and we made some improvements, and we just hope they're good enough" for union members to approve, said Sean Fivecoat, the secretary-treasurer for the Northwest branch of the AFA.

"With the airline in bankruptcy, this deal was always going to be about survival," said Mollie Reiley, interim president of the Northwest branch of the union.

"We left no stone unturned and we have made a significant difference together, but this is not a day that we celebrate."

If flight attendants approve, the tentative agreement would end Northwest's push for labor savings that began in 2003 and eventually totaled $1.4 billion.

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