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Teamsters Protest at NWA Annual Meeting
By Mark Zdechlik
April 23, 1999
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Northwest Airlines' flight attendants demonstrated in New York, site of the airline's annual shareholder meeting. The union workers say unrest at Northwest is unnecessarily cutting into the airlines bottom line and threatens its future.

FOR THE SECOND TIME in two years, Northwest Airlines' shareholders' meeting was marked by angry employees speaking out on what they say is an unwillingness by management to provide them with fair compensation.

A year ago, it was Northwest's pilots who made up the majority of picketers outside the shareholders' meeting. Five months later, the pilots shut down Northwest with a strike. Now, it's the airline's 11,000 Teamsters Union flight attendants who are talking about a walkout.

Between 50 and 75 flight attendants turned out for the demonstration. They were cheered on by 150 to 200 New York-area Teamsters. Many of the flight attendants wore stickers proclaiming their readiness to strike.

Since last fall's pilot's strike, Northwest has settled contracts with all of its unionized employees except for its flight attendants and its aircraft mechanics and cleaners. That leaves about 20,000 of the airline's 50,000 workers without new contracts two-and-a-half years after the three years of wage cuts expired. Northwest has repeatedly missed self-imposed goals of having all of its labor disputes settled. Spokesman John Austin says the goal remains a priority.

The two sides resume negotiations next week. The head of the union says, depending on how the talks go, the union may prepare to ask its members to authorize a strike.