2 Arrested as Road to NWA Hangar Blocked

Two people were arrested Saturday and police towed two vehicles after a number of motorists — apparently supporters of striking Northwest Airlines mechanics — temporarily blocked a road leading to a Northwest hangar.

"There were more than 100 cars that had blocked off Airport Lane," said Patrick Hogan, a Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman.

The road, on the north side of Interstate 494 and west of 34th Avenue in Bloomington, is one of the main access points to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for busloads of replacement mechanics hired by Northwest.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association has been on strike against Northwest since Aug. 19.

Hennepin County sheriff's deputies and Bloomington police officers assisted airport police in clearing the noisy traffic jam, which occurred about 5:30 p.m., Hogan said.

Access to one of Northwest's maintenance hangars was interrupted for about 45 minutes, but there was no violence, Hogan said.

The two men arrested were cited for interfering with a lawful order and obstructing traffic. Both were later released.

Hogan said authorities had not determined whether the road blockage was related to a nearby union rally that was sponsored by the striking mechanics and attended by strike supporters from a number of unions.

But Ted Ludwig, president of Local 33 of AMFA, said the caravan of vehicles began when someone at the rally called for people to drive by the airport entrance and honk their horns in support of picketers there. Ludwig, who said he watched the traffic jam from the union's strike staging area on other side of I-494, denied that AMFA had planned to block access to the airport.

"Everyone got bottlenecked up on the frontage road across from the scab entrance," Ludwig said. "It wasn't something we had planned."

A Northwest spokesman declined to comment on the incident.

The union and its more than 4,000 members went on strike after the airline sought dramatic job and wage cuts to the tune of $176 million. Northwest has since filed for bankruptcy protection.

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