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News Release

Release #03.85
December 5, 2003

Binding Arbitration Offered to Settle Mesaba Case

MINNEAPOLIS --- Three days of mediated talks between the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and Mesaba Airlines yielded little progress this week, prompting mediators to offer binding arbitration to settle the protracted contract dispute.

The parties received a letter from the National Mediation Board early this morning citing an impasse in the bargaining process. The letter urges an agreement as soon as possible and offers binding arbitration to resolve the outstanding issues. If both parties accept the offer, a neutral arbitrator will decide the outcome of roughly two dozen issues that remain open. These remaining issues include job security, compensation, retirement and work rules.

Should either side decline the offer, a 30-day cooling off period would occur prior to a strike deadline. If there is no agreement reached at the end of that cooling off period, ALPA is entitled to call a strike. Mesaba pilots voted 98 percent in favor of using this action if an acceptable agreement cannot be reached.

A pilot strike at Mesaba Airlines, which operates as a Northwest Airlink provider, would affect over 600 daily flights the carrier operates for Northwest Airlines.

ALPA’s Master Executive Council (MEC) at Mesaba will meet Monday to consider the arbitration offer. The MEC is the union’s governing body at Mesaba and is comprised of 12 elected pilot representatives.

Negotiations to amend the seven-year-old agreement commenced in June 2001. The contract includes concessions that facilitated the introduction of the AVRO RJ-85 regional jet fleet. Those concessions have saved Mesaba more than $12 million to date.

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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ALPA CONTACT: Kris Pierson (612) 839-0789