"It Was Very Clandestine"
The second time wasn't
the charm for Mark McClain, who -- after surviving an earlier
recall attempt as head of the Northwest Airlines pilots union in
April, in the middle of tough negotiations that resulted in steep
pay cuts and major concessions -- was ousted from his post Tuesday
by a 6-5 recall vote.
"It was a total ambush, and they shot me clean in the back,"
McClain told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune on
He may have a point there. The recall vote -- which comes one
month after pilots approved the concessionary contract
with Northwest -- was not on the executive council's
Furthermore, none of the union's rank-and-file pilots had been
told a recall vote was to take place Tuesday -- so there were few
people in the audience -- and union members told the Star Tribune
that recall advocates did not tell pilots attending earlier local
meetings of their plans to renew their campaign to replace
"It was very clandestine," McClain said, adding that he was shut
out of the executive council chambers while members debated his
future during a four-hour recess. "They didn't pursue the agenda in
the light of day. They did it in a dark, back room."
One union member said McClain's ousting represents the
discontent the union feels over the results of contract
negotiations with Northwest Airlines.
"It's been a longtime process of concessionary bargaining, and a
lot of people aren't happy with the results," said ALPA spokesman
McClain was leader of the Northwest branch of the Air Line
Pilots Association for seven years. The union's executive council
will elect a new chairman Friday.
In the meantime, McClain -- a 757 pilot for Northwest -- spent
Wednesday cleaning out his apartment near the union's Bloomington,
MN offices, in preparation to return home to his farm near Des
"I've been building a model of the Titanic on my kitchen table,"
he said. "I've always been a bit nervous to complete it because I
thought it would be a bad omen."