Striking Mechanics, NWA Meet

Striking mechanics at Northwest Airlines held their first bargaining session of 2006 on Tuesday, but they did not reach an agreement with management.

The union "entered into a general dialogue" with airline negotiators "in an effort to resolve outstanding issues that are of mutual interest to both parties," Jeff Mathews, contract coordinator for the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), said Tuesday in an update to union members.

"The company took our concerns and indicated they would get back to us sometime next week but made no other commitments whatsoever," Mathews said.

Neither Northwest nor the union detailed what was discussed.

"No additional negotiations are scheduled at this time," Northwest said in a statement. "However, the parties will continue to explore whether there is a mutually acceptable way to resolve the ongoing labor dispute."

AMFA will mark the one-year anniversary of its strike Saturday. When AMFA and Northwest reached agreement on their last contract in May 2001, there were 9,795 AMFA members on the payroll. Northwest executives have downsized the airline since then and dramatically increased the level of maintenance outsourcing.

Today, there are 880 mechanics on Northwest's payroll, including about 600 who crossed picket lines or returned to Northwest after being furloughed before the strike.

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