Tough Task Following Chapter 11 Fallout
Employees are a bit skeptical to
hear that Northwest Airlines management is developing a customer
service training program for its employees.
"We all love our jobs. It's just that we've been beaten down a
little bit," said Maria Palmer, a Northwest customer service
Pay cuts and the company’s 20-month bankruptcy has weighed
heavily on the remaining employees, according to the Detroit News.
Bankruptcy is just the latest chapter for an airline that is known
for tough labor relations.
Northwest is starting a new company wide training program for
front-line workers, that it hopes will be the first step in
regaining a better corporate culture and changing its image
Northwest wants to create a better environment for its employees
and customers, according to Roy Bostock, Northwest's new board
"I want these folks to know that this board of directors cares
about them and is hell-bent on changing this culture and changing
the attitudes in this company to make it more productive for
everyone," Bostock said.
Northwest has often received mixed reviews from travelers, the
News reports -- getting high ratings for safety and efficiency, but
falling far short on passenger service.
According to the Airline Quality Ratings study Northwest had the
best operational statistics among the big network airlines in 2006.
The first half of 2007, it had the fourth-best record among 20
carriers for baggage handling.
Northwest ranked last among big airlines in customer
satisfaction in a JD Power and Associates report released in June.
The carrier also received low marks for service by flight crews and
for its cabin amenities.
Northwest’s leadership believes a better customer
experience starts with a better work experience, said Crystal
Knotek, Northwest's senior vice president of customer service.
"We want to make sure that we are treating our employees so they
feel valued, because then they will treat the customers better,"
But Northwest’s employees are a bit skeptical of
management’s approach in trying to convince workers of the
new work environment, said Kevin Griffin, president of the
Northwest branch of the Association of Flight Attendants.
"There's a lack of trust out there," Griffin said.
Most attendants felt forced to ratify pay cuts and work rule
changes just before the airline left bankruptcy.
“Employees have been through a lot and there's a little
bit of skepticism" about the training program,” said Julie
Hagen Showers, who served as a management negotiator during the