NWA pilots blast executive pay
By Liz Fedor
Mpls Star Tribune
Thursday, March 8, 2007
The head of the Northwest Airlines pilots union said
Wednesday that the company's executives are poised to award
themselves excessive compensation, even though the airline's
projected profitability was achieved largely because employees
took deep pay cuts. "The pilots gave concessions to save
Northwest Airlines, not to enrich the Northwest executives,"
Dave Stevens, chairman of the Northwest branch of the Air Line
Pilots Association (ALPA), said in an interview.
On Tuesday, Northwest CEO Doug Steenland announced payment of
$32.6 million in profit-sharing to the entire workforce.
The pilots' labor concessions -- including two pay cuts, benefit
changes and work rules that require longer hours -- are worth
$608 million per year.
"Management used an overly pessimistic plan to extract
concessions" last year, Stevens said. Pilots feel "angry,
frustrated and tired." Even though Steenland recently said that
the airline was "fixed," Stevens said: "Things aren't going to
be fixed until they solve the morale issue."
The pilots, who picketed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Airport on Wednesday, want Northwest to negotiate new work rules
that will improve their quality of life.
Pilot spokesman Wade Blaufuss said Northwest cannot ignore the
feelings of pilots and other employees because the airline's
customer service will suffer if employee needs are ignored.
Before it can exit Chapter 11, Northwest must reveal its
management-compensation plan. Steenland said in a recent
interview that top executives will receive equity in the
restructured airline, but he has not tipped his hand on how it
will be distributed.
Stevens said Steenland has resisted his call to grant stock or
stock options to "front-line employees who make the money for
In a statement Wednesday, Northwest did not address the
executive-compensation issue but said that employees are
expected to receive $1.5 billion through 2010 from
profit-sharing payments and bankruptcy claims included in the
Liz Fedor • 612-673-7709 •