Bloomington, MN, April 12, 2006 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) officials said they can't understand why AMFA members who are cleaners and custodians have been granted Unemployment Insurance benefits in Minnesota, but AMFA mechanics in exactly the same situation have not.
"It makes absolutely no sense that our cleaners and custodians are receiving the unemployment benefits that are due to them, but the State Legislature still refuses to grant these benefits to mechanics," according to AMFA Assistant National Director Steve MacFarlane. "All our members were forced to strike by Northwest Airlines, all our jobs have been replaced, and all of us have the right to picket as the strike continues."
MacFarlane said it is clear that all three AMFA groups faced the same pay and job cuts, yet the mechanics were singled out by the Department of Employment and Economic Development as being different. Now, seven months later, the mechanics and their families still have received no transitional help, even after Northwest Airlines admitted there are no more jobs for mechanics in the state of Minnesota.
"We find it appalling that anyone in the State Legislature would consider it necessary to impose additional conditions on AMFA mechanics before agreeing to help these Minnesotans to get back into the workforce. To claim that benefits cannot be granted unless picketing ceases begs the question of how AMFA cleaners and custodians, in the same state and the same strike, received these benefits. Blackmailing striking workers to give up their right to picket under federal law to receive benefits that have already been granted to other members of the same strike, is a clear signal that the State would rather harm its own citizens than risk offending Northwest Airlines. Minnesota is giving the appearance it has the best government that money can buy," MacFarlane said.
"AMFA National stands by its members at Local 33 who have suffered at the hands of Northwest Airlines and now the State of Minnesota, to denounce blackmailing union members for benefits they are rightly due."
Mechanics who went on strike against Northwest Airlines last year are eligible for unemployment benefits as long as they meet program requirements, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The national headquarters of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association is up and running in its new Aurora home.
Northwest Airlines mechanics are trying to build solidarity as the deadline for a strike approaches, but most of the airline's other unions are noncommittal about joining the picket line.