Northwest Hires Extra Security Guards Ahead of Strike Deadline

MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines Inc. has hired security guards to watch mechanics at some airports as the airline and mechanics union approach an Aug. 20 strike deadline, union leaders said.

Northwest managers have told union leaders for mechanics at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport that the airline will add security at the Northwest hubs, the Detroit Free Press reported Saturday.

The nation's fourth largest airline is seeking $1.1 billion worth of wage concessions from its workers. It got $300 million from pilots and salaried employees last year, but mechanics and flight attendants have resisted.

The mechanics could strike at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Aug. 20 unless they make a deal with the company. The two sides are expected to keep meeting until the deadline. The company has vowed to keep flying even if a strike takes place.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest, which is Michigan's biggest passenger air carrier, declined to comment on the company's plans for security.

"We are not publicly discussing the suppliers that are part of our contingency plans," said company spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch.

Northwest was to begin training flights for what the airline calls flight attendant candidates. The company has been recruiting replacement workers in case members of the Professional Flight Attendants Association refuse to cross picket lines in the event of a mechanics strike.

The flight attendants union sued the airline and was seeking a temporary restraining order to block some of the company's plans.