Mechanics union rejects 26 percent wage, 112 percent pension increases


Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The union for Northwest Airlines' mechanics rejected an unofficial company offer for a 26 percent initial wage increase and a 112 percent pension increase, the union's leader confirmed.

Northwest also increased its retroactive pay proposal by more than 100 percent, from $41 million for the union's 10,000 mechanics, cleaners and custodians to $88 million, said O.V. Delle-Femine, national director of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, confirming figures the Star Tribune obtained from an anonymous source.

The rejection came in the final hours before contract bargaining broke off between Northwest and the union Sunday, the Star Tribune said.

The 9,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians at Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, had been prepared to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. EST Monday. But President Bush appointed an emergency board last week that pushes any possible strike back to mid-May at the earliest.

Northwest's mechanics have been seeking a new contract for 4 1/2 years. The rejected retro pay would have given an average veteran mechanic a lump sum of $10,000, up from the company's previous offer of $4,100.

Delle-Femine expressed anger Monday that the contract proposal had been leaked. ``It's going to cause pandemonium,'' he said.

He said the airline's proposal ``didn't meet our criteria. There were other issues other than money.''

Northwest spokesman Doug Killian would not comment, saying the company was bound to a confidentiality agreement.

The newspaper said its source described Northwest's offer as a hypothetical ``supposal,'' not an official proposal.

Delle-Femine confirmed that Northwest offered to increase its wage proposal from $31 an hour for an average senior mechanic to $33, a 25.7 percent increase from the current rate of $26.25. The union had asked for a 40 percent raise to $36.84.

Industry consultant Jerry Glass, a professional negotiator who has represented several airlines in contract talks, said Northwest's offer of $33 bordered on ``industry-changing,'' not just industry-leading.