Teamsters Control Northwest Attendants

Associated Press
Last Updated: July 2, 2002 at 4:13:35 a.m.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - The Teamsters Union took over its local representing Northwest Airlines flight attendants, saying the unit's leaders haven't battled another union that wants to represent the 11,500 employees.

``We have a hostile raid going on right now,'' said Mollie Reiley, a Minneapolis-based flight attendant who the Teamsters named trustee to run Local 2000. ``There has been a complete and utter refusal by the leadership of this local union to address that threat.''

In the past month, a group formed the Professional Flight Attendants Association, or PFAA, and began a campaign to force an election in which Northwest's flight attendants would choose between it and the Teamsters for representation.

At stake is about $500,000 in monthly dues collected from the union members.

Last week, Local 2000 president Danny Campbell refused to carry out a list of demands Teamsters president James Hoffa said were necessary to defeat the PFAA.

And the local's executive board last week posted a hot line message to members saying it would not actively participate in any campaign to counter the PFAA effort.

But Campbell said he and other Local 2000 leaders weren't being disloyal to the Teamsters. Instead, he said they told the Teamsters they ``needed something from the international to wrap our arms around to build the basis of a campaign.''

Reiley, the new trustee, was unable to provide specifics about what action was needed to counter the PFAA threat.

The Teamsters have represented Northwest flight attendants for 26 years. In 1992, Local 2000 was formed to bring all Northwest flight attendants under the banner of the same local. The union's current contract with Northwest runs for about two more years.

But Campbell said Monday that union members don't like the hard-sell style of the Teamsters and have a history of standing up to oppression.

``They don't like the browbeating, the bully tactics. And when it comes from the international, they get really upset about it,'' Campbell said. ``If the Teamsters were sincere in keeping the unit, they would recognize that.''

Gary Helton, a flight attendant based in Los Angeles and interim secretary-treasurer of the PFAA, said the takeover of Local 2000 may help the challengers.

``It's going to turn thousands of flight attendants in our direction,'' Helton said. ``This is going to send a clear message to the flight attendants that unless everybody plays by their rules, the rules of the IBT, that they're going to attack and attack viciously.''

Campbell said the local leaders had complied with the international's order to freeze the unit's money and account for its assets and funds. Teamsters spokesman Brian Rainville said it was conducting an audit and investigation of the local.

One thing the Teamsters are investigating is how the PFAA obtained the local's mailing list to send out organizational literature. The Teamsters say that list belongs to their union, but Campbell said he believes the list was one used by Northwest.

To win a membership vote on its bid to become the union for Northwest flight attendants, PFAA must have signed authorization cards from a simple majority of members on the union's seniority list.

Reiley said she doesn't believe PFAA is close to that yet. But she said the PFAA will win if the Teamsters don't protect their turf.

On the Net:

International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

Teamsters Local 2000:

Professional Flight Attendants Association:

Northwest Airlines: (PROFILE (CO:Northwest Airlines; TS:NWB;) )


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