ALPA Pledges $2 Million To Northwest Airlink Pilots

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL—- Northwest Airlink pilots flying for Mesaba Airlines are gearing up for escalated strategic activities to support protracted contract talks as negotiations enter the 20th month of bargaining with many issues still dividing the two sides. The Northwest Airlink pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International, received an initial allocation of $2 million from the union’s Major Contingency Fund (MCF) and the full support of their fellow ALPA members throughout the nation.

“With the financial support and solidarity of ALPA’s 65,000 other pilot members, we are confident that our Northwest Airlink pilots can achieve the type of contract they have earned,” said Capt. Duane E. Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International. “With pilot salaries at this carrier beginning at $17,000, there is much room for improvement in pilot pay, not to mention other important issues, such as retirement and job protections. These pilots gave concessions in 1996 when the company needed flexibility to grow - resulting in significant profits for the airline. It is time for Northwest Airlink to bring these pilots in line with others in the industry.”

Northwest Airlink pilots who operate Mesaba aircraft have been negotiating with the company for a new collective bargaining agreement since June 2001, with the expectation that they could conclude a new contract by the amendable date of June 2002. Unfortunately, the amicable working relationship that had existed previously has deteriorated in the last few years, and management seems intent on dragging out the bargaining process. Pilots filed for federal mediation with the National Mediation Board in July 2002, and a federal mediator has been overseeing the negotiations since that time. Once the NMB decides that the negotiating progress is at a standstill, they will declare an impasse and begin a 30-day clock which can legally end in a pilots’ strike or management lock-out.

“Mesaba pilots are grateful for ALPA’s full support in our efforts to secure a fair new contract that’s long overdue,” said Captain Tom Wychor, head of the ALPA unit at this Northwest Airlink pilot group. “Although management seems content to squander millions of dollars on an outsourcing threat and pressure employees to hand over their paychecks for growth, it should be obvious that ALPA is clearly poised to stop this attack on labor.”

ALPA established its MCF after the United Airlines strike of 1985. The MCF is maintained at a level in excess of $70 million, and is available to fund responses to threats to member pilot groups.


Founded in 1931, ALPA represents 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at