State of the Airlines

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Northwest Flight Attendants May Create Their Own CHAOS

A recent update to the Northwest flight attendant union website is once again encouraging its members to rally to behind plans for a CHAOS (Create Havoc Around Our System) strike. The approach should worry any flight attendant at Northwest that wants to keep a job. Union leadership believes a strike will, in their own words, "level the playing field"
"We remain committed to reaching a negotiated agreement with the company regardless of the hurdles along the way," said Mollie Reiley, Interim Master Executive Council President. "However, at this time it appears that the company is more focused on their legal strategy than meaningful discussions. Until the time comes when they are willing to sit down and negotiate a fair contract, it is necessary that we level the playing field and exercising our right to strike does just that."

I disagree. In the industry today the bankrupt airline has a significant advantage negotiating with any union, strike or not. The trail left by US Airways, United and Delta clearly illustrate this. Yes, Northwest has claimed repeatedly that a flight attendants strike could put the airline out of business. That's necessary language to get the bankruptcy court to delay a strike. In the meantime Northwest is (and has been for months) training any office worker that moves to be a flight attendant. Not an ideal situation but it could certainly blunt the effect of a strike. Either way flight attendant jobs are at risk if (a) the airline can survive without them or (b) the airline folds.

Labels: , , , ,