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Northwest Flight Attendants Ask NMB To Declare An Impasse In Negotiations

Date: April 17, 2007

Washington, DC - Northwest Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) yesterday once again asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to release them from further mediation with the airlines' management and to start a 30-day cooling-off period.

"Having flaunted the status quo provisions of the Railway Labor Act, and trampled the right to strike, Northwest has pocketed the $200 million in concessions they claimed was needed from the flight attendants," stated Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President, in a letter to NMB members. "Now, as the company returns to profitability far ahead of plan, the initial justification for those concessions has been thrown into doubt, yet they cling to the same concessionary demands. Management has no motivation whatsoever to negotiate substantive changes with the flight attendants. Couple that harsh reality with the fact that the flight attendants have twice voted against ratification of previous tentative agreements, and we have a situation that could not more clearly define an impasse."

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 RLA collective bargaining process, it is within the sole discretion of the NMB to determine when a company and a union reach an impasse in negotiations. If the NMB determines that further mediation will not help the parties reach a consensual agreement, the agency 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.

"It is unfortunate that courts continue to ignore the pleas from the thousands of Northwest flight attendants who are struggling to make ends meet under the overreaching concessions that have been  imposed by Northwest executives," said Jay Hong, AFA-CWA Northwest Master Executive Council President. "We will continue to fight until we have an agreement that is fair and equitable and recognizes the sacrifices that Northwest flight attendants have made to make our airline successful."

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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