Jay Maynard (jmaynard) wrote,
Jay Maynard

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What's AMFA smoking?

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the union representing mechanics at Northwest Airlines, is living in a dream world. They think they can do better in bankruptcy court than the offer Northwest is making them. AMFA assistant national director Steve MacFarlane had this to say to the Star-Tribune:

But MacFarlane said that bankruptcy "is not such a scary thing for us. We think in some cases, the judge might actually be more balanced than Northwest Airlines is."

Another statement he made shows the true problem with Big Labor:

"If you want skilled, experienced, talented mechanics, the industry's going to have to pay for that," he said. "If you want laborers, they're out there, and you're going to pay them a laborers' rate. But you're not going to get skilled mechanics for laborers' wages."

What he fails to realize that the pay scales he cites as being what the industry will have to provide to get skilled mechanics are well above what the industry is paying: Northwest's mechanics are the highest-paid in the industry, by a fair amount. The rest of the industry has already cut back mechanics' pay, and Northwest will either have to follow suit, cut back all of their other employees' pay even more, or else accept that they'll be permanently uncompetitive in an industry where the overwhelming factor in a customer's choice of supplier is price.

This is hardly unique to AMFA, of course. Big Labor has always operated on a "me first, screw you" basis, both with other workers and the companies they work for. As a result, they've priced themselves out of the global labor market, and it's coming home to roost.

Northwest has no choice. They cannot cave in to AMFA's demands. If they can't get the cuts they need - and nobody disagrees that they need them - at the bargaining table, they'll get them in bankruptcy court.

AMFA is gambling that the court will see things their way. The potential downside for them is that the court can impose cuts even more draconian than those Northwest is proposing. I believe that's what will happen: Northwest is asking for a total of $1.1 billion in labor cost cuts through negotiations, but that figure is likely to rise to around $1.7 billion in bankruptcy court.

AMFA is playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship, and they'll lose. I have no idea why they're going down the road they are, other than to protect the union bosses' phoney-baloney jobs.

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