Much Happened in 2005 at Memphis, Tenn., Airport

Memphis International Airport was the stage for some of the most compelling human dramas in town this year.

"People are depressed and losing hope," Ellis said. "Anybody who can retire is retiring and leaving Northwest."

Other unions had agreed to temporary cuts, including Northwest's pilots, who took 24 percent cut in November on top of a 15 percent cut they agreed to in late 2004.

The IAM refused, saying its members not only couldn't afford cuts but had never been repaid as promised for concessions they made in the 1990s.

Senior baggage handlers earning about $42,000 a year lost nearly $8,000 in earning power overnight.

While its flight schedule is little changed in Memphis, Northwest has scaled back its employee base significantly.

It no longer does any maintenance in Memphis, reducing its maintenance workforce by 110 people over several years.

Maintenance is contracted to Swissport, which has a Memphis office.

Fueling and ground vehicle maintenance is done by Air Service International Group. A local branch of GAT Airline Ground Support is cleaning the planes.

Companywide, Northwest has replaced all 4,400 of its striking mechanics, plane cleaners and maintenance workers. At least 280 strikers and another 200 laid-off union members crossed the picket line. None of the airline's other six unions honored the picket line.

Strike members are voting on a final contract now, which is essentially their final send-off.

If approved, the strikers will receive four weeks of severance pay, down from the 16 weeks Northwest considered offering when the sides met in September.

Union officials urged the rank and file to reject the contract. The vote will be public Friday.


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