August 11, 2005, 09:49 AM
The Pros and Cons of Striking (or supporting one)
I know that there is currently a lot of stress surrounding our jobs and I know that the conversation around it has gotten high pitched and feverish. This post is neither. It is a more free-flow of my mixed feelings on the idea of a strike.
Why We Should Walk Out
1) Growing up in coal/steel country, Union membership is regarded as a right and not a privelege. The support of a fellow union on the property is encouraged, expected and demanded. Failure to do so leads to ugly results.
a) As a subpoint on this, I have seen highways jackrocked, cars flipped over, windshields shot out, families torn apart, lives destroyed, businesses closed, and communities torn assunder by strikes and the scab workers that invariably follow a walk-out/lock-out. Strikes are ugly, dangerous things but not supporting fellow workers is an unforgivable sin in the Union world and not walking out will never be forgotten.
2) Northwest Management has brought this on themselves. This is a huge one. The clowns running this sideshow of an airline have managed to destroy it so rapidly that it is dizzying. The company has been in a free fall from the day Richard Anderson left. We should do everything in our power to push for the replacement of the senior management staff at this airline. Walking out in support of the mechanics would put stockholders in a place to demand change in management and permanently change the culture of labor problems at <nwa.
3) Intimidation. The intimidation factors used by <nwa is crazy. We should be anxious to help the company through a rough time but instead we all feel like we are getting the hell kicked out of us on a daily basis. We look around at our competitors at Continental and American and we see that they have reached agreements with their management that changed their contracts and kept the companies from entering bankruptcy. Those employees weren't enthusiastic about taking pay and benefit cuts but did so because of a working relationship with management that involved trust and mutual respect.
a) Lack of Trust. The fact that we all are working in an industry that is really struggling right now, the level of mistrust is jawdropping at Northwest. Every legacy carrier in the US is losing money but we still believe that <nwa management is lying to us about the situation here. The level of mistrust is really deplorable. There is only one way to fix that. FIRE MANAGEMENT.
b) Respect. The absolute total lack of respect shown the work groups here at NWA is enough to make us walk out on its own. Few companies in America have the long, sordid history of labor tensions that Northwest has. Management has a long, long history of pitting work groups against each other and shoving labor around. It is so bad that one school in Michigan uses the Republic-NWA Orient merger as a classroom lesson on how NOT to run a company. A strike might be the catalyst to an honest attempt by management to change the relationship it has had with its workers. No one should be viewed as "a necessary evil" by its employers. Once again, the quickest way to fix that is to FIRE MANAGEMENT
Reasons Not to Walk Out.
1) This isn't a strike by PFAA and the flight attendants. This is honoring a picket line of another work group at <nwa. While labor unity is important the reality is that we would shut down the airline. The mechanics striking will cause a deterioration of the schedule and a drop in on time performance. It will cost the company a lot of money in extra workers, hotels for distressed passengers and so on and so forth. But the airline will continue to fly. If we walk and the airline is forced to shut down, bankruptcy will happen within days.
2) We can actually be very supportive of mechanics while continuing to work. We have the power with the log book. That log book must be cleared before EVERY flight. If you are on a DC-9 and can't find SOMETHING to write up every leg, you aren't looking hard enough. From lightbulbs, sticky jumpseats, broken toilet seats, tray tables, seats, coffee pots, etc. everything should be written up....DOWNLINE. That way aircraft can't be swapped and the company will have to take delays downline.
If we simply overwhelm the system, we can add pressure to the company. And the company wouldn't DARE make a statement to PFAA about logbooks during a mechanics strike when the perception of safety is of paramount concern of the company.
3) Returning to work. Like I said in #1, a walkout by the flight attendants would shut down the airline and inevidibly lead to a bankruptcy filing. It is important to remember that this is a walkout in support of ANOTHER work group. If we walk and the company files for reorganization, we will STILL be without a contract. I don't think that we want to renegotiate a contract with this company after a strike while in bankruptcy.
I think that this is the most important point in the whole posting. We would be the most direct link to a bankruptcy filing and would be seen as the ones that put the airline there. No matter the poor management decisions that led us to the edge, the walkout would be seen as the final push. This would be detrimental in our ongoing contract negotiations and if a judge was given control over contract decisions that would surely be an issue of his.
I am looking forward to a thoughtful discussion on this topic. Currently, I am leaning toward voting "no" on the strike vote but am not planning on voting until closer to the closing date as I'm really torn.
Let me know what you think
The Hillbilly FA