Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:44 am

Some NW Mechanics Back To Work

Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:25 am

It looks like an arbitrator handed down a split decision in a grievance brought by the NW mechanics' union over the layoffs of mechanics in the wake of SARS and the start of the Iraq war last year.

Here's an article:

I think the argument advanced by the union was that not all of the layoffs were really caused by "force majeure" (basically a principle of contract law that excuses one party from complying with the terms of the agreement due to an unforeseen event such as war or natural disaster). Although the article doesn't mention it, a radio report I heard today suggested that the mechanics to be reinstated were those who worked on some 747s that were going to be retired or taken out of service at NW anyway.

Can anybody offer a little more insight into what happened with the layoffs and what this ruling really is based on? Perhaps one of's NW employees?

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nwa man
Posts: 1752
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 1999 3:24 am

RE: Some NW Mechanics Back To Work

Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:08 am

I'll take issue with these quotes from the Strib article...

Helen Witt, the arbitration panel's chairwoman, wrote that Northwest planned for several years to remove older 747s from its fleet. So she concluded that the airline could not legitimately cite SARS in August 2003 as the reason for parking 11 747s and laying off workers who maintained those planes.

Every airline plans for several years to remove older aircraft types from their fleet. However, Northwest, financially damaged by the Iraqi conflict and SARS, decided to speed up the retirement of many of their 747-200 in an attempt to decrease their losses. Unfortunately for these mechanics, this decision resulted in layoffs.

Perhaps the arbitrator could have examined NW's Pacific fleet, before and after the SARS outbreak. Many of the 742s retired ahead of schedule served intra-Asia routes which became incredibly thin after the disease spread across the globe. NW was forced to downgrade their equipment to A320s and 757s. Only now is the airline recovering from the incredible hit that their NRT hub took from the disaster, yet some routes are still operated with 757s today.

"We wanted to convince the arbitrator that the company was using tragic events in another part of the world as an excuse to lay people off," said Jeff Mathews, AMFA contract administrator.

... and those tragic events caused NW a tremendous loss of revenue. It's not really a baseless excuse like Mr. Mathews seems to claim when there's clear evidence of the tragic events hurting the entire airline industry, especially in parts of the world (Japan and the U.S.) on which NW depends.


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