The Association of U S West Retirees



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 the airline."

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 union contracts.

Liz Fedor 612-673-7709