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Mechanics union fails to ground Northwest

Published: Wed, September 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Forum, Fargo, N.D.: By any objective measure, Northwest Airlines has not been crippled by the mechanics union strike. Instead, the airline is functioning at near normal levels, having easily weathered a glitch or two during the first days of the strike.
(Disruptions caused by Hurricane Katrina are not strike related and are affecting all U.S. carriers.)
Moreover, the airline is moving to replace striking mechanics with other qualified mechanics. The process has gone well because there are more than enough mechanics out there who need work. They have readily crossed picket lines and, along with NWA's management personnel, are keeping the airlines planes safe and flying.
Leadership failure
The strike was ill-conceived. The leadership of the Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association did a disservice to the membership two ways: First, the strike was called without union leadership giving members a chance to vote on Northwest's final offer. Second, the mechanics union could not secure the support of other airline unions. As a result, all other unionized Northwest employees -- pilots and cabin attendants among them -- crossed picket lines.
Fallout from the strike for union mechanics will be severe because their jobs will be gone.
If the union believed it could shut down Northwest, it got a wake-up call when it didn't happen.

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