Having sat on both the labor and management side of the table at an airline, I always take a special interest in the antagonistic machinations of airlines and their unionized employees. Within the airline industry, Northwest used to be known as “The Cobra Airline, Strike at Will.” Honestly, I’ve never quite understood why Northwest and it’s unions have never quite gotten along. Hopefully, if an NWA person reads this blog, they’ll enlighten us.
In any event, today, the judge overseeing NWA’s bankruptcy ruled that he could not enjoin Northwest’s flight attendants from striking. And the flight attendants indicate that they will begin their trademarked “Chaos” campaign on August 25th at 9:01PM.
There has been a lot of chest-beating and stone throwing from both sides. That’s not unusual in the airline business. All the bankrupt and not quite bankrupt airlines have undergone a lot of this as they’ve restructured both in and out of court. Each time, they’ve stepped up to the edge only to negotiate an agreement at the last minute. This situation may be no different, and if history is any indication, Northwest and the flight attendants will work something out to avert a strike.
But something about this one makes me just nervous enough to recommend to my traveling friends that they avoid Northwest if at all possible until this thing is settled. If any union walks on any airline, it could be now. There is an awful lot of bad blood on both sides, or it certainly seems that there is. The flight attendants have undergone quite a bit of upheaval in the last few years, changing unions twice. Call it another one of those hunches, but I would avoid booking Northwest from August 25th forward until this thing settles down one way or the other. If you have the option, avoid them now. As we saw with the mechanics strike, side effects of all the labor tension can impact the airline’s operation even before the actual strike begins.
Just my opinion and nothing more.