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Northwest Flight Attendants Receive Bipartisan Support from Capitol Hill

Date: April 21, 2007

Washington, DC - Northwest flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), are receiving some much needed Congressional support in their quest for fair negotiations. Congressional leaders are submitting letters to the National Mediation Board (NMB) encouraging them to release both parties from further talks.  

"Management clearly has little or no motivation to negotiate substantive changes with the flight attendants because the NMB refuses to start a 30-day cooling-off period," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "Couple that harsh reality with the fact that the Northwest flight attendants are still working under court imposed work conditions, and have twice voted down previous tentative agreements, and we have a situation that could not more clearly define an impasse."  

Those concerned with the progress of negotiations between AFA-CWA and Northwest Airlines management are: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI), Representative George Miller (D-CA), and Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).  

"Northwest flight attendants deserve to have the opportunity to work under a collective bargaining agreement that has been reached in a consensual manner and ratified by them," stated Rep. Schakowsky in her letter to the NMB. "However, it appears evident that negotiations between the two parties have reached an impasse, and that there is no new movement towards reaching such an agreement. We strongly encourage you to aggressively move this process along and release the parties from mediation as soon as possible."  

On March 29, the Appellate Court upheld a previous district court injunction, ruling that the rejection of a collective bargaining agreement under current bankruptcy law does not constitute a breach of that agreement nor a violation of the Railway Labor Act. In what can best be described as a unique approach to the law, the Court found that when Northwest management rejected the flight attendants agreement, it did not breach the agreement but instead it was as if the contract never existed. Therefore, the court said the flight attendants were barred from striking immediately, but rather must complete the lengthy Railway Labor Act process.  

As recently as Tuesday, April 17, the NMB refused AFA-CWA?s renewed demand for a release. The NMB reconvened negotiations on Thursday, April 18, despite the fact that management has refused to any monetary improvements since last July.  

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. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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