Pilots ratify contract with Northwest Airlines

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Northwest Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, have voted to ratify a new contract, the union announced. The concessionary contract, designed to help NWA emerge from bankruptcy, was approved by a 63.42 percent to 36.58 percent margin.

Ninety-five percent of eligible NWA pilots voted. The pact, for a term of five and one-half years, preserves important NWA pilot job protections while reducing pilot costs by $358 million, the union said.

“The agreement is a painful but necessary part of a successful restructuring of Northwest Airlines,” NWA Master Executive Council (MEC) Chairman Capt. Mark McClain said. “Now is the time for Northwest pilots to unite and begin looking forward to our company’s successful emergence from bankruptcy.”

The new agreement retains the current 23.9 percent pay cut NWA pilots agreed to in November 2005 and provides NWA pilots with significant scope protections against the outsourcing of mainline flying to small jets. NWA pilots successfully retained all flying on 77-seat and higher aircraft while limiting the number of small jets to 55 (or 90 if placed at an affiliate) 51- 76 seat aircraft. In addition, NWA pilots receive an $888 million unsecured claim in NWA and participate in profit sharing and success sharing once the company emerges from bankruptcy.

“Our goal in negotiations was to provide contract changes which addressed Northwest’s needs, but also provided security for Northwest pilot jobs,” McClain said. “Our negotiators did a remarkable job preventing Northwest management’s excessive small-jet demands and retaining merger and fragmentation rights for Northwest pilots.”

ALPA and NWA management began negotiations once NWA filed a Section 1113(c) motion with the bankruptcy court on Oct. 12 to reject all union contracts. The negotiations took place simultaneously with the 1113(c) bankruptcy hearing in New York. Eventually, the negotiations resulted in a tentative agreement March 3, just prior to a ruling from Bankruptcy Judge Allan Gropper.

The new NWA pilot contract will take effect once IAM and PFAA have new ratified agreements. PFAA is currently voting on its tentative agreement, while the IAM is resuming the 1113(c) hearing on May 15 on the two contracts which were not ratified by their membership.

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