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Union at Northwest Pushes Its Strike Case

From the Associated Press

Northwest Airlines flight attendants said Wednesday that only a strike would force the airline to make a deal, and they asked a judge to rule quickly on whether they could stage random, unannounced walkouts.

Northwest Airlines Corp. offered to negotiate and said it was working on its own ideas to come up with a deal that flight attendants could accept. But it wasn’t moving much -- airline spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said it still wanted $195 million a year in savings, the same as it would have received under two earlier negotiated settlements voted down by the rank and file.

The strike threat came after Northwest imposed the rejected terms July 31 with a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge’s permission.

U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero in New York has temporarily blocked all job actions, and is considering how long to keep attendants from striking. Both sides were to report to him Wednesday on whether more talks would help. He has not said when he’ll make a final decision about whether flight attendants can strike.

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The Assn. of Flight Attendants wrote to Marrero that informal contact with Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest in recent days showed that “meaningful negotiations are not possible at this juncture.” Northwest has little incentive to negotiate because it already got the pay cuts it wants when it imposed new terms, the union wrote.

“As a consequence, AFA believes that the only path to a negotiated settlement will be through the flight attendants’ exercise of their legal right” to strike, their letter said.

Northwest wrote that it “stands ready, willing and able to continue negotiations ... at the earliest opportunity.”


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