The union representing Northwest Airlines mechanics said yesterday that two days of mediated talks with the carrier had led to progress...
MINNEAPOLIS — The union representing Northwest Airlines mechanics said yesterday that two days of mediated talks with the carrier had led to progress in heading off a looming strike, but that a deal was not yet within reach.
An update posted on the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) said language issues were being resolved.
Northwest is the fourth-largest airline company at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Representatives for the airline and the mechanics union have been negotiating in Washington, D.C., since Monday morning, hoping to head off a strike that could start at 9:01 p.m. PDT tomorrow.
The update, from the union’s contract coordinator, Jeff Mathews, was the first report from inside the negotiations, and it detailed a flurry of offers and counteroffers.
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Negotiations went 9 ½ hours Monday and nearly 12 hours Tuesday before reconvening yesterday.
A spokesman for Northwest declined to comment on the union update, saying only the airline is happy negotiations are continuing and hopes to head off the strike.
In the face of operating losses and possible bankruptcy, Northwest is seeking $1.1 billion in annual savings through concessions from its employees, including $176 million from mechanics.
It is asking mechanics to accept a 25 percent pay cut and wants to lay off about 2,000 of the 4,500 mechanics represented by the union.
Northwest also wants to be able to hire contractors to do some of the work done by the union’s mechanics, cleaners and custodians.
The AMFA update offered few specifics of the negotiations but indicated Northwest is not backing down from its stance that it can’t retain the union-represented cleaners and custodians.
Mathews wrote that the union still does not accept the proposed layoffs, but indicated that if they were to be considered, the company would have to be much more generous.
“We did not entertain the idea of getting rid of the cleaners or custodians but did point out that their proposal was grossly inferior when compared to the severance package provided to the same employee group at bankrupt United Airlines,” Mathews wrote.