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Northwest Warns Workers About Concerns Over Noise Dispute

January 10, 1990

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) _ In a move to block additional noise restrictions at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Northwest Airlines has warned employees that jobs will be lost if the airline can’t use older, noisier planes until it gets new, quieter models.

In a three-page letter dated Jan. 3, Northwest urges employees to contact Minneapolis City Council Member Steve Cramer, whom it calls ″particularly vocal on the current noise issue.″

The letter asks the employees to tell Cramer in their own words:

″You are a Northwest employee. You live in Minneapolis. Aircraft noise is a price we pay to live near an airport. Unreasonable noise restrictions limiting the use of certain aircraft like the DC9-40 will hurt Northwest, its employees and the local economy. Let’s work together to address noise concerns.″

The letter also urges Northwest employees to contact Cramer before a Jan. 23 meeting of the Metropolitan Aircraft Sound Abatement Council, at which Northwest is expected to ask the council to approve the use of about 14 older and nosier airplanes until Northwest can take delivery on new and quieter planes over the next 10 years.

The letter noted that some of Cramer’s constituents live under flight paths and have complained about noise.

″But hundreds of Mr. Cramer’s constituents are Northwest employees like you,″ the letter says. ″These employees’ livelihoods could be adversely affected by restrictions on Northwest’s fleet operations. Mr. Cramer needs to be reminded that Northwest employees are also his constituents. ... Your job could be threatened by the actions of Mr. Cramer and other MASAC (Sound Abatement Council) members.″

The letter is signed by Tim Thornton, Northwest’s executive vice president and general counsel; Greg Averill and H.T. Dodge, vice chairmen of the local unit of the Air Line Pilots Association; Guy Cook, president of District Lodge 143 of the International Association of Machinists, and Bruce Retrum, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 2747.

Cramer, a Minneapolis representative on the Sound Abatement Council, said Northwest’s letter ″underscores an apparent new confrontational approach that they are taking, which I don’t think in the end will be productive.″

He also said that if Northwest asks the council to endorse the use of the older planes, he will vote against it.

″That’s like asking people to endorse being hit over the head with a baseball bat,″ Cramer said.

Being formed is a committee that would propose policies to increase the use of newer, quieter planes at the airport. The committee is expected to study ordinances that would require airlines to use a certain percentage of quieter planes.

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