On August 25, Judge Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York temporarily barred Northwest’s flight attendants from striking, promising to issue a final ruling after further consideration.
While the judge contemplated the competing arguments—basically the right of Northwest employees to strike versus the interests of the U.S. air transportation system, which could be adversely affected if Northwest were grounded by a strike—customers holding Northwest tickets were left to worry whether future flights would be disrupted. And potential Northwest customers had good reason to give their business to airlines with no potential disruptions clouding their futures.
On Friday, Judge Marrero finally made good on his promise, ruling that a flight attendant walk-out would destabilize travel to an unacceptable degree and therefore had to be prohibited.
The judge, quoted in a Forbes.com article, opined as follows: “Congress has gone to extraordinary lengths to legislate its view of the vital role that these carriers play for the economy, national security, movement of goods and people, and general well-being of the United States.”
It’s a defensible position, as is the alternative. But this is a case where justice needed to be swift, not just sure. It wasn’t. For three weeks, both the traveling public and Northwest Airlines were left to suffer while the court mulled.
Justice withheld, justice denied.