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Judge Says Northwest Attendants Can't Strike

September 16, 2006|From Reuters

NEW YORK — A federal judge has ruled that Northwest Airlines Corp. flight attendants may not strike or take other job actions pending a decision on the matter by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The latest twist in the long-running labor dispute prevents the union from disrupting service and removes a potential obstacle that could keep Northwest from exiting Chapter 11.

In a written ruling dated Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero said that the union had not gone through all the options for coming to an agreement with the airline and that a strike could potentially destroy Northwest and harm the traveling public.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest, the No. 5 U.S. airline, welcomed the decision, but the Assn. of Flight Attendants, which represents the carrier's 7,300 active attendants, said it would appeal.

It "allows our customers to continue to book Northwest Airlines with confidence," Northwest spokesman Dean Breest said. "We remain committed to negotiating a consensual agreement with our flight attendants."

But the union said it saw little point in sitting down again with Northwest. The airline's flight attendants have twice rejected tentative agreements with the airline over pay cuts designed to save $195 million a year.

The two sides have not had formal discussions out of court since July, when Northwest was allowed to impose the terms of the first tentative agreement.

Marrero sent the matter back to Bankruptcy Court, saying that the airline had shown the need for further litigation and that the court needed more time to reach a decision.

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