Some Plead, Others Pray... One Accuses
If you're Judge Allan
Gropper, you have no shortage of people trying to get your
attention right now -- especially if those people are current
or former employees of Northwest Airlines.
Gropper -- the US Bankruptcy Court judge who Wednesday approved
interim concession agreements with pilots and flight attendants,
including pay cuts up to 24 percent in some cases -- has received
letters from several Northwest employees.
Some try flattery in hopes of garnering his attention, according
to the Associated Press, while others try the direct approach -- as
did laid-off mechanic Jim Ward.
"I hope you want to hear all the facts. Because if you don't
than (sic) I'm no better off than some poor schmuck in some South
American country," wrote Ward in an impassioned letter, that
invited Gropper to come to the Minneapolis-St. Paul to see the
impact of laid-off workers firsthand.
"I'm sure you have the power to have Northwest let you and I
tour the maintenance facility so you might have a better feel and
understanding of what's at stake," added Ward, who was laid off
from his job more than two years ago.
In the Wednesday hearing, Gropper also delayed until January a
hearing to terminate employee collective bargaining agreements with
the pilot, flight attendant, and machinists unions.
One flight attendant tells Gropper (right) she prays he'll make
the right decisions for workers, while another employee questions
if the judge is on the take -- even comparing the Northwest case to
that of disgraced former energy provider Enron.
The overriding theme to
many of the letters, though, is of love for a company that has been
a victim of poor management.
"What we need is true leadership, and right now that leader is
you," A320 pilot Rick Larson wrote, disputing reasons given by
management for the company's September 14 Chapter 11 filing.
Employees will sacrifice, Larson wrote, for leadership they
trust. The pilot also called on Gropper to select a new CEO for the
airline, which the judge does not have the power to do. Nor can he
bring back striking mechanics, although only he can grant Northwest
permission to reject union contracts.
Analysts say such personal letters aren't uncommon during
bankruptcy proceedings, and Gropper declined to comment on them.
That doesn't mean the letter writers are going to give up on their
"I hope I haven't offended you with my candid comment," said
laid-off mechanic Ward, "because I am definitely in a 'David vs.
Goliath' battle and I need someone that's in a position to make
change hear my arguments."