Northwest, Striking Mechanics to Meet
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The business news starts with the effort to resolve an airline strike. Northwest Airlines and its striking mechanics union are meeting today for the first time in a month. The discussions come as the union continues to lose ground in its battle with the nation's fourth-largest airline. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.
FRANK LANGFITT reporting:
The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, known as AMFA, went on strike in late August. Since then, things have gone badly. Northwest kept flying with the help of replacement workers. Then it hired most of them for permanent jobs. And at least 50 union members have now crossed picket lines. Neither the union nor Northwest are talking publicly. Charles Craver, a labor law professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC, has been watching the strike unfold.
Professor CHARLES CRAVER (George Washington University): I think that the AMFA union is probably in big trouble at Northwest and probably elsewhere.
LANGFITT: Northwest, which declared bankruptcy last month, wants to cut most of the jobs held by the union's 4,400 members. Gary Chaison teaches industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He says the union just hopes to limit damage.
Mr. GARY CHAISON (Clark University): I think AMFA has come to terms with the fact that jobs are gonna be lost. This is a situation that's not gonna have a happy ending.
LANGFITT: Chaison says the union is trying to get the best severance it can for those who will lose jobs and avoid drastic pay cuts for those who remain. Today's meeting in Minneapolis is not a negotiating session. Northwest says it's only talking to the union to see, quote, "what options remain, if any, for resolution of the ongoing strike." Frank Langfitt, NPR News.
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