Northwest Pilots Travel to D.C. to Urge Congress to Pass Pension Reform Legislation

More than 200 Northwest Airlines pilots, other employees, and retirees traveled to Washington, D.C., on July 18 and urged members of Congress to quickly pass pension reform legislation. Appropriate legislation, allowing Northwest and other airlines more time to fulfill its pension obligations, would help secure the pension plans of thousands of airline workers. Without legislation, Northwest will most likely terminate its employees' pension plans and pilots would lose $1.7 billion in accrued pension benefits.

"The pilots of Northwest Airlines view pension legislation as a win, win, win for the taxpayer, the employee, and our employer," said Capt. Dave Stevens, the Northwest Master Executive Council chairman. "This is not a taxpayer bailout; rather it is Northwest's opportunity to live up to its obligation over a longer period of time."

Members of the Northwest coalition began their trip early Tuesday morning as one flight departed Detroit at 6:30 a.m. while the other flight departed Minneapolis at 5:30 a.m. Both flights were flown by NWA pilots who volunteered their time.

After arriving in D.C., Northwest employees were bussed to the Rayburn House Office Building, where they received briefings from Capt. Stevens, other union leaders and Northwest CEO Doug Steenland. U.S. Representative Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) addressed the group in the morning before the Northwest coalition members split into groups to meet their respective members of Congress.

U.S. Sens. Carl Levin (D) and Debbie Stabenow (D) of Michigan, Norm Coleman (R) and Mark Dayton (D) of Minnesota, and Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi addressed the group during lunch in the Russell Senate Office Building. Following lunch, the employees continued to meet with their respective representatives until 3 p.m. The coalition members were then transported to the airport and departed on their scheduled 4 p.m. flights.

"This event demonstrated the importance of pending pension legislation that will help protect careers and earned benefits of employees at Northwest and other airlines," the Northwest MEC Legislative Affairs Committee chairman, Capt. Mark Neuville, said. "The employees and their management have spoken with one voice to Congress: 'To delay is to deny; move pension legislation forward.'"

The Northwest employees gather in Washington, D.C.

Center: U.S. Representative Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.)

Left to right: Northwest MEC Chairman Capt. Dave Stevens, Congressman Mark Kennedy, and Northwest CEO Doug Steenland.