Bush at the Controls

The last thing the drooping US economy needs is a major airlines strike, grounding tourism and business travel. That's why the tentative agreement between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics union is good news.

It shows that the often bitter differences between executive suites and front-line employees in this key industry can be negotiated into a credible deal - if the incentives are right.

In Northwest's case, one incentive was the threat of federal intervention. President Bush last month took the unusual step of setting up a Presidential Emergency Board, which has the power to recommend a settlement that can be imposed by Congress.

Reasonably, management and union chose to come up with their own settlement, rather than chance an imposed one. What emerged is a draft contract that gives the mechanics, whose rank and file still must vote on the agreement, most of what the union wanted in the way of significant pay hikes. At the same time, it gives Northwest the prospect of clear flying ahead, minus labor turbulence.

Also just ahead is the prospect of a pilots' strike at Delta Air Lines. Flight attendants at United also are weighing a walkout, as are mechanics and ground crews at American.

For his part, the president has vowed to take "necessary steps" to prevent any airline strikes this year. His emergency board move with Northwest served notice as to what that means. The other companies and unions doubtless got the message.

This exercise of White House clout has been criticized by airline unions as thwarting their strike leverage. In the current economic climate, however, such clout is needed.

The Northwest negotiations indicate, moreover, that presidential intervention needn't work to the detriment of workers who feel they're making legitimate demands.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK