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Northwest, Pilots Gear up For New Round of Talks

May 3, 1989

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Northwest Airlines, a takeover target of Los Angeles billionaire Marvin Davis, on Tuesday resumed contract talks with its 5,000-member pilots union.

Negotiations were scheduled to continue through Friday, according to a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association.

Northwest Chairman Steven Rothmeier has said a closed contract is needed if the airline is to make a deal with friendly investors to thwart a hostile buyout bid by Davis.

The oil mogul has launched a $2.7 billion, or $90-a-share, tender offer rejected by the board of directors of Northwest’s parent, NWA Inc.

As many as four groups of friendly investors have expressed an interest in buying or investing in the airline but don’t want to face the possibility of a pilots’ strike, Rothmeier has said.

The contract would unify the wages, seniority rights and working conditions of the pilots, who have been working under separate pacts since Northwest acquired Republic Airlines in the fall of 1986.

″There are more than 100 items that we are in disagreement over,″ said Jim Halvorson, an ALPA spokesman.

Important issues left unresolved include earnings and the right for Northwest to use non-union labor.

The pilots want assurances that non-union pilots won’t be hired to fly new planes purchased by Northwest’s jet leasing subsidiary, Halvorson said.

″Any airplanes they buy, we fly,″ he said.

Rothmeier has said the company’s position on the issue is firm.

Northwest has offered only small hourly wage increases, but has said wages for most pilots will increase as much as 38 percent under a broad upgrade in classifications for current pilots.

″The concept is good, but the numbers that they gave us were not″ adequate, Halvorson said.

Talks between the two sides were last held in mid-April and broke off as scheduled. Rothmeier pleaded for expedited negotiations because of the takeover threat, but the pilots declined.

Northwest spokesman Bob Gibbons said the company would not comment on the status of negotiations.

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