Mediation Request Postpones Strike Threat
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The National Mediation Board intervened in the labor dispute between Northwest Airlines and its 4,800 pilots, averting the possibility of a strike at midnight tonight.
The board stepped in at the request of Northwest Chairman Steven Rothmeier.
Members of the Air Line Pilots Association voted overwhelmingly Monday through Thursday to set a midnight strike deadline. But a walkout is illegal under mediation, and the union will not strike, said spokesman Tim Barzen.
Contract talks between the carrier and pilots reached an impasse Nov. 1 over wages, work rules and fringe benefits. Union spokesman Pete Quortrup said negotiators disagree on more than 100 issues.
With 85 percent of the union’s pilots voting this week, nearly 97 percent said they would support a strike, union spokesman Andy Murphy said today.
Under mediation, wages and work rules remain unchanged. Mediators handle negotiations until there is a settlement or an impasse, at which point the board will offer arbitration.
If either side rejects the offer, there would be a 30-day cooling off period before Northwest could impose a contract or the union could strike.
″We intend to schedule mediation sessions at an early date. As soon as we get someone available,″ said Charles Barnes, executive director of the National Mediation Board in Washington.
Redmond Tyler, a Northwest spokesman, said the threat of a strike did not appear to affect ticketing for flights over the weekend.
Pilots are flying under two contracts - one covering 2,000 pilots who flew for Republic Airlines before its 1986 merger with Northwest, the other covering 2,800 pilots who flew for Northwest or have been hired since the merger.