For Immediate Release: January 19, 2008
Contact: Kevin Griffin 952-241-4101 or Corey Caldwell 202-434-0586
Northwest Flight Attendants: Merger Just Another Huge Payday For Management
Union Vows To Put Workers First
Washington, DC - Northwest CEO Doug Steenland stands to be one of the big winners in a Delta-Northwest marriage. Airline executives always give the obligatory reassurance that no merger would take place if not in the best interest of shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. But, the Northwest flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) have been through this before and they know the bottom line: executives and their consultants get rich, while airline workers and passengers pay the price.
"We know how mergers work," said Kevin Griffin, Northwest AFA-CWA Master Executive Council President. "If Mr. Steenland is replaced in the event of a merger, he would walk away with millions of dollars in benefits and compensation. Those millions could and should be spent to repair the damage to workers pay and benefits inflicted during the recent bankruptcy. The needs of the workers' who make this airline successful need to be put first, not those of greedy executives."
According to a 2007 SEC filing, before the company was even out of bankruptcy, Northwest management was outlining the details of their severance packages in the event of a merger. Steenland's severance payment would equal three times his annual base salary and scheduled incentives, totaling over $7.8 million. It is not uncommon, however, for a larger package to be negotiated once a final decision has been reached.
"Looking back at the SEC filings, it is obvious that one of management's goals was to position our airline as an ideal merger candidate so they could walk away with millions," said Kevin Griffin, Northwest AFA-CWA President. "Management has taken our concessions and made a mockery out of them."
In 2006, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court forced over $195 million in annual concessions upon Northwest flight attendants, which totaled a 40 percent reduction in wages and benefits. After the draconian cuts were imposed, flight attendants were faced with many life changing decisions. Some sold their homes in order to make ends meet while others were left with no other option than to use the money set aside for their children's college education to make rent and buy food. At the same time these rich executives were imposing extreme hardships on flight attendants, management was busy ensuring that their own future would not resemble that of the employee groups.
"Each time we try to have a discussion regarding quality-of-life improvements, we are told that these improvements would affect the overall cost savings that was acquired during bankruptcy. If that is the case, then how can these golden parachutes not affect cost savings?" said Griffin. "We would like to be supportive to a merger, but we must first ensure that our members' needs are addressed."
To view the Northwest SEC filing, visit this web page.
For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.