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News Release

Release #03.092
December 26, 2003

Northwest Airlink Pilots Open Additional Strike Operations Centers in Detroit and Memphis Strike Deadline is 12:01 a.m. EST January 10

MINNEAPOLIS --- As their January 10 strike deadline approaches, Mesaba Airlines pilots announced today they will open additional strike operations centers in Detroit and Memphis. Earlier this month, Mesaba pilots opened a strike operations center in Minneapolis. A strike would impact 600 daily departures for Northwest Airlines.

“We deserve and have earned a fair contract,” said Capt. Tom Wychor, Chairman of the Mesaba ALPA Unit of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). “Mesaba pilots don’t want a strike, we want a contract. But we are prepared to strike if management forces us to.”

Mesaba pilots are legally entitled to strike at 12:01 a.m. EST January 10 if a new contract hasn’t been reached. In October, the pilots overwhelmingly (98%) voted to authorize a strike should union leaders call for a work stoppage. Key unresolved issues include job security, compensation, retirement and work rules. A Mesaba first officer’s annual starting salary is $17,000, while more than 400 of the 844 Mesaba pilots earn less than $32,500 a year.

“Mesaba continues to be profitable and is very capable in meeting our fair contract demands,” Wychor said. “Our concessions in 1996 have saved Mesaba over $12 million to date.”
Negotiations began in June 2001 and the pilot contract became amendable in June 2002. It was negotiated in 1996 and was extended for two years by concessionary amendments that enabled Mesaba to efficiently expand its fleet.

Mesaba Airlines operates as a Northwest Jet Airlink and Northwest Airlink partner for Northwest Airlines. Mesaba serves 114 cities in 30 states and Canada from Northwest's three major hubs: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Memphis. Mesaba employs 844 professional airline pilots who operate an advanced fleet of 103 regional jet and jet-prop aircraft.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing 66,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA Web site at


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