The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Northwest Airlines:
Outrageous demands

Jun 6, 2005

Northwest Airlines is demanding that mechanics accept a 26% pay cut and elimination of over 2,000 of their jobs. Northwest also wants to cut the pay of aircraft cleaners by 25% and eliminate over 800 of their jobs, plus cut the pay of custodians by 26%. Northwest said it intended to contract out one-third of its technical work to vendors, either in the U.S. or overseas, who pay lower wages.

This kind of demand would have been considered completely ridiculous just 10 years ago. But a lot has happened in 10 years. Other airlines have declared bankruptcy in order to void wages and benefits guaranteed in contracts.

Northwest apparently figures it can get a similar deal without bothering to go to the bankruptcy courts. Like a neighborhood bully who threatens to use a club to get what he wants, "Northworst" is threatening to use the courts. But bullies have often been pushed back and taught a lesson.

Neither threats nor bankruptcy courts can take things from workers who bring their forces together to fight.