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News Release

Release #03.036
April 24, 2003

ALPA’s Northwest Airlink Pilots Picket for a Fair Contract

MINNEAPOLIS ---Northwest Airlink pilots who fly for Mesaba Airlines will display their growing displeasure with the slow pace of contract talks by holding an informational picket Friday, April 25, in front of the Detroit, Minneapolis, and Memphis airports. Pilots have been negotiating with Mesaba management on a new collective bargaining agreement for 22 months and believe it’s high time for management to demonstrate a renewed commitment to concluding the talks.

Pilots will picket Friday, April 25, 8:00- a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in front of the ticketing and departure level at all three locations.

"Mesaba pilots are dedicated to negotiating a contract in good faith, but management persists in stalling talks and shirking responsible bargaining," said Captain Tom Wychor, cChairman of the Mesaba Airlines ALPA unit. "Our pilots continue to exhibit professionalism each and every day, even though many Mesaba pilots must work two jobs to make ends meet."

In 1996, Mesaba pilots gave concessions on their current agreement in 1996 enabling Mesaba Airlines to substantially grow and post record profits. These concessions still allow Mesaba Airlines to maintain profitability despite the current industry turmoil.

Since 1996, management has received astronomical increases in their salaries and bonuses while first-year pilots were are paid less than $17,000 a year. Currently, third-year pilots make less than $24,000 a year. Some pilots qualify for multiple public- assistance programs.

"Becoming a commercial airline pilot takes years of education, training, and dedication;, and once employed by a carrier, pilots have an incentive to stay with that carrier as seniority governs all aspects of a pilot’s job. In our 1996 contract, pilots gave up hard-earned income to help Mesaba Airlines grow — even though our salaries were already meager compared with other pilots — demonstrating a strong commitment to our company’s success," Capt. Wychor said. "We were promised that resulting profits and growth would be returned to Mesaba pilots by improving our next contract. We have been waiting for seven years for a return on our investment and fulfillment of promises made by management."

Mesaba Airlines provides service to 106 cities for Northwest Airlines.

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 wWeb site at

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Michael Dockman, 612-961-6634


Kris Pierson, 612-839-0789


Dave Ricci, 734-717-5068


Michael Dockman, 612-961-6634