Ground workers at Northwest Airlines Corp. were set to finish voting on their tentative agreement with the airline on Monday, one of several pay-cut pacts at the airline that still need worker approval.
Results weren't expected until at least Tuesday because the vote was conducted on paper ballots which must be hand-counted, said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The IAM represents about 14,000 baggage handlers, ticket agents, and other ground workers.
The tentative agreement would save Northwest $190 million a year and includes pay cuts and more freedom for the company to use part-time workers.
The union's Web site called the balloting "the most important vote in our working history."
The IAM was the first of Northwest's large unions to reach a permanent pay-cut agreement after the nation's fourth-largest carrier filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 14. Flight attendants made a deal on Wednesday, and pilots followed on Friday. Both of those unions still need to submit the pacts to members for a vote. The Professional Flight Attendants Association said the balloting would take 30 days.
Northwest got the savings it wanted from its mechanics union by permanently replacing them and sending their work to contractors after a failed strike that began in August.
Northwest extracted the concessions from the reluctant unions because bankruptcy law allows companies to seek a judge's permission to reject union contracts if they don't agree to new terms.
Also Monday, Northwest flight attendants were to finish balloting on a strike authorization. The authorization would be moot if they approve their tentative agreement.
On the Net:
Northwest Airlines: http://www.nwa.com
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace: http://www.iam143.org/
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