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Northwest Flight Attendants Declare Negotiations At Impasse

Date: September 21, 2006

Washington, DCNorthwest Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) yesterday declared their contract negotiations at an impasse and have asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to release them from further mediation with the airlines' management.

"The NMB was created to protect employees, not strip away their rights as the courts have done," said Mollie Reiley, Interim Master Executive Council President. "Management has no motivation to negotiate – they have already taken over $200 million a year from us and the district court has prevented us from striking. If Northwest is allowed to get away with destroying our careers, you can be sure that this practice will soon spread and other companies will use this as a method to destroy the lives and the professions of thousands of employees. The right to strike is the only tool working women and men have to counter the greed of management that is eroding corporations across America – it's the one thing that forces management to negotiate fairly."

The NMB is a federal agency that enforces the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which protects workers' rights to organize unions and engage in free and fair collective bargaining in the US aviation and railroad industries. Under the collective bargaining process, when a company and a union reach an impasse in negotiations, the NMB can determine that further mediation will not help the parties reach a consensual agreement. The NMB then offers to submit the dispute to arbitration. If either side rejects arbitration a 30-day cooling-off period commences. If no agreement is reached by the end of the cooling-off period, the workers may choose to exercise their right to strike. A status conference between AFA-CWA and company management has been requested by the NMB for Tuesday, September 26.

"When management unilaterally cut flight attendant pay, benefits and work rules, they mocked the integrity of the NMB's role in promoting consensual resolution of labor disputes," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "Northwest management has made every attempt to stall negotiations and hang on to the concessions that they forcibly took in bankruptcy court. For the future of Northwest flight attendants, as well as the countless employees who will follow in their footsteps unless this culture of greed is reversed, we urge the NMB to declare an impasse and allow the Northwest flight attendants to exercise their own self help in the wake of management's imposed working conditions."

For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. For more information, please visit us at www.nwaafa.org or www.afanet.org. 

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