Northwest Flight Attendants Threaten Strike

Northwest Airlines flight attendants union said in a bankruptcy filing late Wednesday that it may strike if a bankruptcy judge allows the carrier to reject its contract.

Northwest is negotiating with pilots, flight attendants and ground workers ahead of a Jan. 17 hearing in which the nation's fourth-largest airline will ask to reject their contracts.

Northwest has said it wants to use more foreign-based flight attendants on international flights and use flight attendants at a new subsidiary on smaller domestic flights.

The Professional Flight Attendants Association, which has 9,600 members at Eagan-based Northwest, said such a move could reduce their number by half.

"Northwest Flight Attendants understand that the carrier's proposals will destroy their profession and PFAA believes that, in response, the membership will authorize a strike to shut down Northwest's operations," PFAA President Guy Meek said in the filing.

"Indeed, there is little economic down-side for the flight attendant group with respect to initiating a strike: the drastic pay cuts proposed by Northwest, combined with the elimination of premium international flying, will make it relatively easy for flight attendants to find immediate employment at comparable compensation levels."

Unions that represent ground workers and pilots have also said they could strike if Northwest gets its way, but Wednesday's statement was the strongest yet from flight attendants.

Northwest Airlines Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sept. 14.

Bankruptcy law allows it to seek to overturn union contracts as part of its reorganization. Northwest has said such a strike would be illegal, but the unions have said the issue of whether they can strike during bankruptcy has not been tested in the courts.

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