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Northwest mechanics, cleaners, and custodians overwhelmingly approve strike
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Northwest Airlines machinists held an informational picketing session at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday, June 9, 2005. Members of the mechanics' union have authorized their national leader to call a strike, in accordance with the timetable set out by the Railway Labor Act. (MPR Photo/Jeff Horwich)
Northwest Airlines mechanics, cleaners and custodians have voted overwhelmingly to approve a strike against the airline. In ballots tallied earlier today, 92.4 percent of Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association members working at Northwest authorized their national leader to call a strike, in accordance with the timetable set out by the Railway Labor Act that governs airline labor relations.

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) -- Under the timetable, a strike could begin 30 days after the National Mediation Board releases Northwest and the union from negotiations.

AMFA National Director O.V. Delle-Femine said he expects the board to release the parties soon, because both parties have requested this and Northwest Airlines yesterday declined the NMB's offer of binding arbitration. AMFA locals across the U.S. have formed strike committees.

"Through the democratic voting process, our members have expressed their extreme frustration with Northwest's unreasonable demands and refusal to take the negotiating process seriously," Delle-Femine said. "They have authorized me to call a strike at any time after the 30-day cooling-off period ends."

In an earlier letter to AMFA members, Delle-Femine said that in the most recent negotiating session, AMFA made "a very generous economic proposal" that "would have saved NWA over $140 million a year in labor costs. This proposal is fair and equitable compared to the other (Northwest Airlines) work groups and the rest of the industry."

Delle-Femine said AMFA's proposal, which included a 16.1 percent pay cut and other concessions, was "summarily dismissed by the company." Northwest has not budged from its initial proposal that seeks to save about $176 million per year through pay reductions of 25-26 percent, along with other major concessions.

"These developments leave us little choice but to prepare for a strike," the letter went on to say.

AMFA represents more aircraft technicians than any other union. AMFA's craft union represents aircraft maintenance technicians and related support personnel at Alaska Airlines, ATA, Horizon Air, Independence Airlines, Mesaba Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. AMFA's credo is "Safety in the air begins with quality maintenance on the ground."

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