“On the final day of Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) negotiations, August 19, we experienced an AMFA job slowdown,” admitted Northwest Airlines (NWA). “Those actions had an impact on our transitional operation,” the airline continued.
NWA had begun training replacement workers and arranging to outsource portions of its maintenance operations in the months leading up to negotiations with the AMFA. Included in its contingency plans were replacement flight attendants, in the event flight attendants honored the AMFA strike. Pilots and other NWA workers reported to work and the airline continued flying its normal schedule with its replacement maintenance operation in place. Though the airline claimed it was flying its full roster of flights, some sources claim on-time rates fell to around 50% during the first week of the strike.
The Independent Pilots Association (IPA), which represents UPS pilots, issued a statement prior to the AMFA strike that UPS pilots would refuse to fly “struck goods.” A UPS spokesman called the statement a “non-issue.”
The IPA statement that it would exercise the pilots’ right under their contract not to fly struck goods that might come from Northwest is largely a non-issue because, “We would never ask them to fly struck goods,” said UPS. “We abide fully by our contract. We have never asked our pilots to violate our contract. And we have no intention of starting now.”
Describing the statement as a “piece of IPA rhetoric,” the UPS representative pointed out Northwest was still flying and hadn’t even asked UPS to handle any of its freight.
The NWA mechanics strike came just a week after British Airways (BA) ground workers honored a strike by employees of Gate Gourmet. That dispute erupted when Gate Gourmet sacked hundreds of employees. The BA ground workers at London’s Heathrow airport staged a sympathy strike over that weekend, disrupting the BA network and halting cargo shipments out of Heathrow. In the BA work stoppage, BA employees were members of the same union that represented the Gate Gourmet workers. As one industry source commented, even the unionized Northwest pilots and flight attendants were not supporting the mechanics strike with a job action.