The tentative agreement being considered by Northwest Airlines Corp. flight attendants could lead to about 1,200 of them leaving the company early under a severance plan.
The plan also includes pay cuts of 21 percent, and would save Northwest $195 million a year. Since filing for bankruptcy in September, Northwest has renegotiated all of its union contracts.
The union's leadership has not recommended either acceptance or rejection. If the union members reject it, the bankruptcy court could allow Northwest to impose similar terms.
Karen Schultz, executive board member of the Professional Flight Attendants Association, said she has "absolutely no idea" whether rank-and-file flight attendants will approve the agreement.
"There is a fair amount of outrage when they look at this tentative agreement," Schultz told the Star-Tribune for a story in Tuesday editions. "It is very difficult to know when the dust settles whether people are going to remain outraged or whether they are going to say this is doable."
Many flight attendants would see their pay cut by more than 21 percent because of other reductions, such as the elimination of premiums for international flights. About 8,500 flight attendants now staff Northwest's flights, and another 1,200 are on furloughs, Schultz said.
In the tentative agreement, Northwest is offering severance payments and lifetime travel passes for those who leave the company early.
Northwest flight attendants would fly more hours under the proposed contract. Currently, they fly 67 to 80 hours per month. The agreement pushes that to 75 to 100 hours; the union estimates that the average will be 87 hours.
Flight attendants have been working under similar pay cuts since mid-November, when union leaders accepted a 20.7 percent temporary pay cut while the new agreement was negotiated. Flight attendants had been earning about $20,000 to $45,000 a year.
The contract includes raises of 1.5 percent in 2007, 1 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and 2 percent in 2011.
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