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Northwest’s (broken) mechanics’ union settles strike

Remember the Northwest mechanics’ strike?

It was one of the nastiest labor disputes in recent history, pitting the airline’s proudly intransigent mechanics union against Northwest’s equally single-minded management team.

The strike is officially over. On November 6, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association ratified a new agreement, ending an episode which lasted 444 days.

But the strike was effectively over as soon as it began. The airline had replacements already in the pipeline when the walkout started, and the strikers were barely missed. In management’s eyes, the mechanics’ bluff had been called. According to the mechanics, and their sympathizers in other labor groups, management had used brutal tactics to break the union.

According to a report, the settlement gives “strikers a choice of resigning and getting up to 10 weeks of severance, or accepting layoff status with five weeks of severance and eligibility for recall.”

In any case, the strike’s resolution is anticlimactic at best, a footnote in the company’s history that neither labor nor management is anxious to be associated with.

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