The Spark

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

Judge gives Northwest right to impose terms on flight attendants

Jul 10, 2006

The judge in Northwest Airlines’ bankruptcy case gave the company the right to impose its own terms if the flight attendants do not reach an agreement with the company by July 17.

The company did all kinds of arm-twisting to convince the flight attendants that they needed to accept a contract containing 21% wage cuts and increased health insurance premiums for a total reduction of 40% in wages and benefits.

Northwest has played off its various workers against each other by implying that those who agreed to concessions sooner might get a better deal and that none of the concessions would be imposed until the company got concessions from all of its workers.

It got a 15 per pay cut from its pilots in 2004, and then came back for another 24% cut on top of that in May. The company took an 11.5% pay cut from ticket agents in March and got similar concessions from ramp workers in June.

Of course, during all of this the airline has used the example of its mechanics. The mechanics rejected the company’s drastic cuts and went on strike – only to have the company replace them while the other unions watched and did nothing.

The flight attendants were apparently not cowed by all this. Eighty% of them voted against the company’s offer last month.

So what did the company do? It did what companies always do – it went to court and got a judge to give it the right to impose its terms on the flight attendants.

Proving once again that in the class struggle between the bosses and the workers, the courts always take the bosses’ side.