Northwest Says Mechanics Talks Stalled

Northwest Airlines Corp. considers its seven months of contract talks with mechanics at an impasse and wants a federal mediator to release the company from further negotiations.

''I'm not really sure why Capt. McClain has decided to interject his views into our negotiations. We sure as heck never inject our views into their negotiations,'' Mathews said.

The PFAA on its Web site has accused McClain of buying into Northwest's ''doom and gloom propaganda'' and said, ''What he calls 'painful' for his group would be just unlivable for ours.''

Similar fissures between the unions appeared in 1993, said Ben Hirst, who was Northwest's vice president for labor relations in 1993, and is now chief legal officer at Los Angeles-based KB Home.

''Ultimately, everybody's got to come together and agree on a plan, or the airline won't survive,'' Hirst said. ''And in 1993 that's the conclusion that the unions all reached, and it was the right conclusion.''

The PFAA has never before negotiated a contract with Northwest, and it has a lot at stake in these negotiations, said John W. Budd, who teaches labor relations at the University of Minnesota.

''They need to convince the people who voted for them that they made the right choice, and they need to win over the people who didn't vote for them,'' Budd said. And certainly no one voted for them to give tons of concessions. Workers can do that on their own.''

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