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Wed, Jul 19, 2006

Northwest, AFA Reach Tentative Agreement

Voting Expected By July 31

Will this be the contract that sticks? We'll soon see... as flight attendants at Northwest Airlines tentatively agreed this week to yet another new contract with the embattled carrier.

The agreement -- which, for now, forestalls Northwest's threatened forcing of its own contract on flight attendants -- was reached Monday between the airline and the Association of Flight Attendants, the new union representing flight attendants at the bankrupt airline.

"It was down to the wire, and we made some improvements, and we just hope they're good enough" for union members to approve, said Sean Fivecoat, the secretary-treasurer for the Northwest branch of the AFA.

Details of the agreement weren't released, but Northwest told the Associated Press it includes the $195 million in annual savings the airline was seeking.

Next up for the agreement is a vote by the union's rank-and-file members... who rejected the last tentative deal presented to them, reached between Northwest and the Professional Flight Attendants Association, the former flight attendants union.

Is this deal any better than that one, though? That's tough to say... but Mollie Reiley, Interim President of the Northwest branch of the Association of Flight Attendants, says certain items on the new agreement are "a little less onerous. But there are other pieces that are still there that we couldn't affect, because of the amount of money involved, and we're going to have to figure out a way to live with that."

"You won't see any negotiators going out and saying, 'Hey, hey, this is really a good deal, you should really feel great about this,'" Reiley added. "Because it's not going to feel good."

Northwest said it expects the rank-and-file to finish voting on the new contract July 31. If it is approved... and that could be a big "if"... it would finally allow Northwest to implement all of the pay deals reached with its other workers this year, and finally start to realize some savings in its quest to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy.



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