Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland failed to appear at a Super Bowl Host Committee Gala whilst the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association notified city officials that it planned to picket the event.
AMFA Local 5 (Detroit) had asked the Host Committee to remove Steenland from its membership because of his ‘anti-union sentiments and ongoing disputes with unions representing Northwest mechanics, pilots, flight attendants and ground workers’.
“There was a rumor that we had bought $1500 tickets and asked to be seated at Steenland’s table. We’re not sure whether he stayed away because of this rumor and our picketing permit, or because he was still trying to freeze pilots’ pensions in New York, but our picketing and leafleting campaign was a major success,” said AMFA Local 5 President Dennis Sutton. “Celebrities and other event attendees carried 300 of our leaflets into the theater, with many of them wishing us luck, and we got a lot of attention from the local media who were there.”
Sutton said tight security for the event was provided by the Detroit Police, the FBI and others, but they let AMFA near the red carpet after seeing that the picketers had a legitimate permit, were accompanied by two observers from the National Lawyers Guild, and were determined to conduct peaceful picketing.
“Mr. Steenland, we are not going away. Not ever,” Sutton said. “We look forward to negotiating a contract with you—or we can just keep on striking. You decide.”