Negotiators for flight attendants reached a pay-cut deal with Northwest Airlines Corp. on Wednesday as the carrier continued talks with the pilots' union.
All the details were not immediately released. However, the airline said it got the $195 million in annual savings it had been seeking. The union said Northwest dropped its demand to use more non-U.S. flight attendants on overseas flights, which had been at the core of its strike threat.
Pilots have also threatened to strike over Northwest's demands for pay cuts and more flexibility in how it staffs its flights. Pilots on Tuesday overwhelmingly authorized a strike if Northwest imposes its terms on them. Northwest is operating under protection of federal bankruptcy laws.
The flight attendant deal still must be accepted by union leaders and approved by a vote of the 9,700 members of the Professional Flight Attendants Association.
"Certainly, Northwest management must comprehend the difficult situation this concessionary agreement puts our members in, and as such we hope that they recognize that now they must treat all employees with great respect in order to heal the damage the bankruptcy process has inflicted upon our carrier," PFAA President Guy Meek said in a prepared statement.
A New York bankruptcy judge had told the parties to make a deal by Wednesday. After that, he could rule on whether Northwest can reject its contracts with the two unions. Similar deadlines have prompted wage-cut deals in other airline bankruptcies.
More than 92 percent of pilots voted to authorize a strike in results released by the union Tuesday night. Northwest said a strike would be illegal.
If either of the two unions "attempt to strike Northwest Airlines, the company would seek an immediate injunction," the company said on Wednesday.
Northwest has been seeking $1.4 billion in savings from all its workers. The flight attendant agreement left only pilots without at least a tentative agreement. The airline's groundworkers are voting on their own tentative agreement.
The company said it expected Judge Allan Gropper to rule "in the near future" on its request to overturn the pilot contract.
Delta Air Lines Inc. pilots faced a Wednesday deadline, too, though both sides said it was unlikely a deal would be made in time. That would send the dispute to a three-member panel of arbitrators in Washington, with two weeks of hearings set to begin March 13.
On the Net:
Northwest Airlines: http://www.nwa.com
Delta Air Lines: http://www.delta.com
Northwest Airlines Air Line Pilots Association: http://www.nwaalpa.org/
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