Rank, but no file



The union that struck Northwest Airlines last August, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, has changed its tune again. A week ago, it said that it would let its members vote on Northwest’s last offer, a step that was universally seen as a sign of weakness, that the union was the first to blink. After all, Northwest had continued flying through the walkout and had hired replacements for strikers; the airline blamed its bankruptcy on fuel, not on the strike.

Now the union is saying ‘not so fast.’ AMFA, as the union is called, has decided that it won’t let the rank-and-file vote because Northwest added language to its offer that the union claims violates its constitution. The language, it turns out, is a “no retribution” clause that Northwest designed to prevent lingering hostilities or distractions after the strike. Northwest has said that it cannot change the wording of the offer. But the union says that this clause would interfere with its right to discipline its members and “as a result, AMFA will remain on strike”. OK, says Northwest; it will continue hiring replacement workers permanently. Solidarity, but maybe not forever.

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