"The more I find out, the less I know."

Saturday - August 20, 2005 at 10:09 AM in

Northwest Airlines Strike


Mechanics for Northwest Airlines, our very own Twin Cities airline monopoly, have gone on strike. The official word from Northwest is that they plan to fly a full schedule using outsourced maintenance and replacement workers.
Barring a sympathy strike from the flight attendants or pilots, they can probably do it.

Why?

Because I've reached the conclusion--based on what I've read in media reports, so don't think I'm particularly insightful or knowledgeable--that Northwest's real intent all along has been to break the mechanics union. The way to break a union is to demand such extreme concessions that the union goes on strike, and then replace all the striking workers.

After some period of time, either the union will cry uncle (in which case the airline wins), or the strike will have gone on so long that Northwest will be able to argue that the replacements are now its actual mechanics and ask for a vote to decertify the union (I'm not up on the finer points of labor law, so please correct me if this is wrong).

I can hardly blame Northwest in this case. The airline, like most of the older carriers, is battling for its life against low-fare newcomers....and in the case of Northwest, not doing very well. Northwest has not been my airline of choice for a couple years now, thanks to high prices and often customer-hostile service. Of course, in Minneapolis, sometimes you have no other choice, but I probably fly on other airlines three times as often as on Northwest, despite the fact that Northwest owns 80% of the departures from the Twin Cities.

So I believe Northwest when they claim they can keep flying without its mechanics union. I think they've been planning to do exactly that for a long time.

Posted at 10:09 AM | Permalink | | |

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