Northwest Pickets Focus on New Target

Striking Northwest Airlines mechanics will picket Friday -- not in front of Duluth International Airport, but outside the Hermantown home of their former union president.

Northwest puts the figure a bit higher. Jennifer Bagdade, a spokeswoman for the carrier, said that in Detroit and the Twin Cities, Northwest has hired 280 would-be strikers, plus another 200 AMFA members who were on furlough at the time of the walkout. That total of 480 people would mean that nearly 11 percent of AMFA members have chosen to cross the picket line.

Reents said he knows of only three or four people who have crossed the picket line out of about 240 members who were working at Northwest's Duluth maintenance base before the strike.

"As a group, we've really held pretty strong up here," Reents said. But he acknowledged that enduring the strike has been a challenge.

"We can't get unemployment benefits or funds for retraining," he said. "It's a tough situation."

Reents has picked up work as a carpenter but said many mechanics have had trouble finding decent employment.

"We know it's a hopeless situation," said Bill Bailey, a mechanic and former union officer who has gone into taxidermy. "We're never going to get our jobs back at Northwest. They replaced us."

Duluth News Tribune

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