The effects of the Northwest Airline's mechanics' strike are just starting to take shape as it moves into its second full day. Contract talks between the company and the union broke down late Friday night and union members walked out. Northwest has brought in 1,500 replacement mechanics to fill in for the striking workers.
In the next few weeks, replacement mechanics for Northwest Airlines will make their way to the Twin Cities and other Northwest hubs. The airline says it will have a replacement workforce ready to go by August 19, when unionized mechanics could go on strike.
Mechanics for Northwest Airlines have walked away from the negotiating table in Washington D.C., ending the latest attempt to reach a contract agreement. The move continues the march toward a possible walkout on Aug. 19, when mechanics are free to go on strike.
If Northwest Airlines mechanics go on strike August 19th, it will be the first airline mechanics strike in the U.S. since 1992. That strike at USAir (now US Airways) lasted only five days. But a 1989 mechanics strike at Eastern Airlines set off a two-year chain of events that ended with the airline's demise.
Eagan-based Northwest Airlines says it lost $225 million in the second quarter of the year. Investors seemed to like the news, which was not as bad as most had expected.
In the contract battle between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics, each side claims the other is out of step with reality. Northwest says it must slim down and restructure to match the rest of the industry. Mechanics say the airline demands cuts that go far beyond those put in place at major competitors like United and US Airways.
The National Mediation Board has released Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union from mediated contract talks. This clears the way for a possible strike in about a month. Airline strikes are extremely rare, and the two sides often work out a deal at the last minute. But many observers see a Northwest mechanics strike as a distinct possibility.
While Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union edge toward a possible strike, Friday is the last day of work for about 580 Northwest Airlines mechanics in the Twin Cities. The airline says they are no longer needed because of slow growth in business.
Eagan-based Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union are one step closer to a strike. The National Mediation Board has decided it is unable to help the two sides resolve their contract negotiations through mediation. The board has offered Northwest and the mechanics the chance to accept binding arbitration. It's one last, remote chance to stave off the countdown to a strike.
It's a question important to almost anyone flying to, from, or through Minnesota in the coming months -- will Northwest Airlines mechanics go on strike?
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