Northwest pilots authorize strike while flight attendants reach deal

It's good news/bad news on the labor front. First the good: The Professional Flight Attendants Association to which Northwest's flights attendants belong yesterday reached an 11th-hour agreement with the airline that averted a potential strike by nearly 10,000 attendants. While no specifics were disclosed by either side, the deal is reported to arrive at the $195 million annual savings Northwest sought.

The airline failed to reach any agreement with its 4,800 pilots, however, and that's bad news. Now the pilots' union has authorized a strike if Northwest gets the court approval it's seeking to void the pilots' existing contract and impose new terms.

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Northwest got itself into this mess, and now it wants its employees—the people who actually fly the planes and deal with customers on the front line every day—to get it out of it. No dice, say the workers.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Northwest is looking to cut total labor costs by about $1.4 billion. No one wants it to come to a strike, least of those of us who are frequent travelers. A strike does no one any good in the long run. But $1.4 billion? Shame on Northwest for getting itself to this point in the first place.

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