Is Business Booming... Or Are Employees Leaving?
Could this be a sign of
improved fortunes at beleagured carrier Northwest Airlines -- or an
indication of low morale? A memo obtained by a Minneapolis/St. Paul
television station indicates Northwest is recalling all 1,131
flight attendants currently on voluntary and involuntary furloughs,
to fill vacancies at their former bases.
Suzanne Boda, vice-president for inflight services at Northwest,
confirmed the details of the memo to the Associated Press -- adding
Northwest will also bring back an unspecified number of pilots. The
recall is effective September 30.
Refusal to respond to the recall would be considered a notice of
resignation from the carrier, according to the Association of
The reason for the callback? Better-than-expected passenger
loads, the carrier says, which Northwest expects will continue
through 2007 in spite of recent security jitters. One spokesman for
the airline admits, however, the recalls are also due to current
employees chosing to leave the airline.
"We're going through a lot of attrition with flight attendants
retiring and people accepting other positions," said Northwest's
Roman Blahoski to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Northwest also reports "unusually high" levels of sick leave
recently among its 7,300 active flight attendants -- actions not
officially endorsed by the AFA, said interim union president Mollie
Reiley... despite recent plans to conduct a series of random
strikes against the carrier after Northwest imposed a new contract
on its FAs.
The higher-than-average sick leave is not "a form of planned
CHAOS," said Reiley, referring to the "Create Havoc Across Our
As Aero-News reported last
month, a New York judge temporarily blocked those
strikes while he decides whether flight attendants are bound to the
Railway Labor Act of 1931, which forbids strikes against a bankrupt
Those employees that choose to come back to Northwest -- some
have moved on to jobs at other carriers, or outside the industry --
will resume their jobs at the sharply reduced wages either imposed
(flight attendants) or agreed to (pilots) in the wake of
Northwest's filing of Chapter 11 bankruptcy one year ago.
Still... for many, any job is better than no job at all.
"I think it's a positive sign that thing are slowly turning
around. I'm very happy about it," said local flight attendants
union leader Camilla Wolkerstorfer.