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Mesaba mechanics and NWA strike

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Well-known member
May 14, 2005
Found this interesting.

Mesaba may seek court order to keep its mechanics working
Wednesday August 17, 6:02 pm ET

Mesaba Aviation Inc. says it is considering seeking a court order to keep its mechanics on the job in the event of a strike by mechanics employed by Northwest Airlines.

A report by St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper said Mesaba Airlines is concerned that its mechanics, who are also represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, will show support for their Northwest colleagues by not reporting to work.

Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Jet Airlink and Northwest Airlink partner under service agreements with Northwest Airlines Corp. (NASDAQ: NWAC - News), which is based in Eagan, Minn. Mesaba is a subsidiary of MAIR Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MAIR - News) of Eagan. Mesaba flies about600 daily flights to 119 cities in 24 states.

Mesaba's 255 mechanics operate under a separate agreement from Northwest.

AMFA warned last week that its leaders had authorized unspecified job actions in the event of a strike, and that Mesaba's members have said they will honor AMFA's picket lines.

A Mesaba spokesman said the company is working to ensure that the airline continues to operate during a strike by Northwest mechanics.

Mesaba Airlines officials are evaluating all of their options to ensure that their airline continues to operate a full schedule during a potential Northwest strike, said Mesaba Airlines spokeswoman Elizabeth Costello.

Published August 17, 2005 by the Memphis Business Journal
Incredible....a freaking completely separate airline, that only freaking code shares....

AMFA really grasping at straws...

Thats alike to every ALPA memeber honoring a strike at another airline... like that would ever happen.. HA

Unity is only there if it's convenient.

Unions headed down the toilet, and this is just another example....

Judge bars sympathy strike at Mesaba
Friday August 19, 9:33 pm ET

U.S. District Judge David Doty issued a restraining order Friday afternoon forcing mechanics at Mesaba Airlines to stay on the job, according to media reports.

More than 4,000 members of the Airline Fraternal Mechanics Association (AMFA) working for Eagan-based Northwest Airlines Corp. have threatened to go on strike at 11:01 p.m. Friday.

Minneapolis-based Mesaba had sued AMFA this week hoping to force 270 union members working for Mesaba to continue working.

Although the airlines are partners, and the mechanics for both airlines are represented by AMFA, each airline has a separate contract with its mechanics. Published August 19, 2005 by The Business Journal
how can someone force a group of people to work? is this a communist/dictatorship country that we live in? so i don't go to work, along with 269 other of my mechanic friends(hypothetical, i'm not one). what are you going to do, sue me? if i dont want to go to work, then god damnit i'm not going to go to work. really though, what would happen if they all chose to strike?
PolarTwins55 said:
really though, what would happen if they all chose to strike?
They can go to work or be fired.

The NWA AMFA employees have a legal right to withdraw services (strike) based upon the process of the Railway Labor Act.

PolarTwins55 said:
thank you. howcome the Mesaba mechanics can't strike?
Because they do not have such a provision in their collective bargaining agreement (contract), and they have not been released from it by the National Mediation Board (NMB).

NWA AMFA mechanics, on the other hand, were released at 12:01 Eastern Time today.

Google Railway Labor Act - - there's some stuff you oughtta learn!

PolarTwins55 said:
thank you. howcome the Mesaba mechanics can't strike?

TonyC has you going in the right direction. There are special rules for airline workers and their contracts. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) provides that Labor contracts never "expire" at a given time...they become "amendable". Only the National Mediation Board (3-person Board appointed by the the President) may declare an impasse, and set a firm deadline for the options available to the company and the union:

  • The company may impose a contract on the workers covered by that contract
  • The workers may engage in "self-help" (slow down's, sick outs, strike, etc)
During the period the contract is amendable, neither side may violate the status quo. (Management can't impose any changes, and the union may not change their work habits)

If the union believes their management is violating the contract, they must comply with the RLA and grieve it. Under some very specific circumstances, they made request a judge to injoin the company from doing something drastic (The legal standard is "irrepairable harm").

If the company believes the union is doing something that violates the status quo, like say, a sympathy strike or slow down in support of their union cousins at an affilated airline...they go to a judge and do the same thing.

If you violate the judges order, as the American Airlines pilots did in the late 90's with a sick out, the judge can hold the union in comtempt. In the case of the American pilots, he didn't force them to go to work...he simply fined them $42-million. He could have jailed the leaders of the APA.

Mesaba mechanics cannot alter their work habits. If their management can show that they have (sick leave statistics, spike in mx delays, etc) the judge can spank them.

The law firms that advise airline managements on this sort of thing know which judges they should work with, just as Carty found good ol' Judge Kendall in Texas to help him slap-down the APA pilots. Mesaba management seems to have found a sympathetic judge too.

Of the 7 unions at NWA, only the pilots (ALPA) do NOT have specific language barring them from sympathy striking in support of AMFA mechanics. The NWA pilots threatened a boycott of Altlantic flying in 1996 in support of KLM pilots, during their negotiations. NWA management tried to have the action stopped, but couldn't show a judge any contractual language to use for a court order.

NWA pilots have made it clear why they are not supporting AMFA mechaincs:
  • NWA mechanics crossed the pilot's picket lines during the strike in 1998.
  • AMFA has refused to participate in efforts to cut costs. Not a sin in UnionLand, but when your contention is that the pilots (and other unions) must make BIGGER sacrifices so that you don't have to take cuts...you don't foster a lot of support from the other unions.
  • AMFA has refused to support ALPA in other efforts at NWA.
  • AMFA canniblaized the mechanics and groomers from the IAM, an AFL-CIO affiliate. ALPA is a member of the AFL-CIO. AMFA is not.
It's disappointing to see it come to a strike. AMFA cannot win this one. They have managed to anger all the other employee groups at NWA at a time when building unity and cooperation against management actions ought to be very easy. That speaks for itself.

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