Appeal for Striking Workers at Northwest Airlines
by Peter Rachleff
message was posted on the Internet on
Sisters and Brothers:
As I am sure you know, 4,400
mechanics, cleaners, and custodians represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal
Association have been on strike for four days at Northwest Airlines. The issues
they are facing will soon face all of us. They have dug in for a substantial
fight and they intend to win, despite NWA’s “preparations,” which have been
lauded on page one of the
Despite the clarity of the issues, the leadership of the International Association of Machinists and the AFL-CIO has been determined to undermine this strike because they blame AMFA for “raiding” the IAM at NWA and other airlines in the late 1990s. I do not have the time or space here to go into an explanation of why and how the NWA mechanics turned to AMFA, nor do I propose to offer a point-by-point validation of AMFA’s history and their approach to trade unionism. These are worthy issues and they deserve careful and considered debate. But, at the moment, 4,400 mechanics, custodians, and cleaners are in the fight of their lives and they need support.
NWA management’s strategy rests on the assumption that AMFA has been, is, and will remain isolated. It is crucial that unions, labor activists, and progressives respond quickly and loudly to challenge this assumption. I am offering you the “solidarity statement” below as a way to announce your support of these workers.
Last night, activists in the Twin
Cities organized an event celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Hormel strike.
More than a dozen veterans of the strike (which occurred in
But it is critical that unions, union activists, and progressives stand with AMFA and its striking members. Here in the Twin Cities, supporters of the strikers are pressing their union leaders to sign on to the statement below. We are also organizing a formal support committee and organizing a food bank. Please sign on to the statement below and circulate it to others to sign. Please reply to me at email@example.com.
Love and Solidarity,
A STATEMENT OF PROTEST AND SOLIDARITY
As union leaders and activists, we want to make it clear that we stand against the behavior of Northwest Airlines management and with the workers of Northwest Airlines and their unions as they seek economic justice.
For too many years the management
of Northwest Airlines—along with other
NWA management has demanded that mechanics allow the contracting-out of the 53% of the work that remains after management already contracted out 38% of it. Fewer than one-fourth of the mechanics employed in 2000 will continue to have jobs. For those who remain, management demands a 26% wage cut and the emptying of their underfunded defined-benefit pensions into 401K plans tied to the stock market. NWA management has demanded that flight attendants undergo a 40% cut in their overall compensation. They are seeking similar cuts from other workers and, if they are able to force the mechanics and the flight attendants to accept these cuts, these other workers—pilots, baggage handlers, ticket agents, clerical workers, and others—will have little base from which to resist. The flying public will also have many reasons to question the safety of NWA flights.
NWA management’s behavior is all
too familiar. It mirrors the actions of Hormel, the
This must stop. These actions by NWA management, combined with their abuse of the trust of Minnesota citizens, taxpayers, and state government, make them a suitable poster child for the labor movement’s renewed efforts to educate, organize, and mobilize all Americans—native-born and immigrant, blue collar and white collar, manufacturing and service, women and men, union members and non-union members. All of us need to say “NO!” to this kind of behavior. NO to union-busting! NO to corporate greed! NO to a race to the bottom of the economic ladder!
We union leaders and activists stand against Northwest Airlines’ behavior and we stand with Northwest’s workers and their unions in their struggle for economic justice.