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News Release

Release #02.103
November 26, 2002

ALPA's Northwest Airlink Pilots Picket on the Day Before Thanksgiving

MINNEAPOLIS ---Northwest Airlink pilots who fly for Mesaba Airlines will conduct informational picketing and leafleting Wednesday in front of the Detroit and Minneapolis airports to show union solidarity during beleaguered contract negotiations.

Informational picketing has occurred on two previous dates in November and is tentatively scheduled to continue until a contract is achieved. Mesaba pilots have been in contract negotiations for a new agreement during the past 18 months. Concessions on their current agreement from 1996 provided growth and record profits for Mesaba Airlines and the company continues to make profits today despite reduced traffic flow in the airline industry. Mesaba Airlines provides service to 106 cities for Northwest Airlines.

"When we helped the company with concessions on our 1996 contract, we were promised that resulting profits and growth would be returned to Mesaba pilots by improving our next contract," said Captain Tom Wychor, Chairman of the Mesaba Airlines ALPA unit. "Mesaba pilots have been waiting since 1996 for a return on their investment, and fulfillment of promises made by management."

Pilots will picket and leaflet on Wednesday, Nov. 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in front of the ticketing and departure level at the Northwest WorldGateway Terminal in Detroit and from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in front of the terminal doors 4, 5 and 6 at the Lindberg Terminal in Minneapolis.

"Mesaba management has said publicly that it wants to recognize our achievements in the new contract. However, there has been no evidence of this at the bargaining table," said Captain Mike Dockman, spokesman for the Mesaba pilots. "During the past 18 months, management has made no offer to improve our contract in the areas of job security, retirement, pay or work rules. Some first officers earn as little as $17,000 a year."

Contract negotiations have yielded little progress and federal mediation has been utilized since early in the fall. Meanwhile, Mesaba has announced the purchase of Big Sky Airlines, a low-cost, small carrier based in Montana. Pilots at Mesaba view the purchase as a threat to their job security as Mesaba could choose to outsource their jobs to Big Sky.

"We continue to show our commitment in reaching a fair and equitable agreement," said Captain Wychor. "But it is impossible to achieve that agreement when management won't live up to its promises."

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world's oldest and largest pilot union representing 66,000 pilots at 43 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web site at

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ALPA CONTACTS: Dave Ricci, (734) 717-5068 Detroit

Kris Pierson, (612) 839-0789 Minneapolis