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 A.net's NW employees?