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Northwest Airlines Flight Attendants Agree to Pay Cuts

Flight attendants at NorthwestAirlines tentatively agreed on pay cuts on Thursday.

Association of Flight Attendants spokeswoman Karen Schultz said the agreement reached early Thursday met the $195 million target for yearly savings that the airline demanded.

"It had to," she said. Other terms of the new pact weren't disclosed.

The deal requires approval by rank-and-file flight attendants, who voted down tentative agreements twice last year. Northwest, with a judge's permission, imposed the changes under the first rejected agreement last summer.

Other unions agreed to pay cuts as Northwest reorganized under bankruptcy protection, and pilots and ground workers received claims that they have been cashing in for 80 cents on the dollar or more. But the terms imposed on flight attendants did not include a bankruptcy claim.

The union acknowledged earlier this week that it would need to make a deal quickly if it were to have a shot at getting a claim in time to vote in Northwest's bankruptcy reorganization.

May 7 is the deadline for holders of unsecured claims to vote on Northwest's reorganization plan. Northwest has said it expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection in June.

The tentative agreement includes a $182 million claim, which works out to about $15,000 to $18,000 per flight attendant, depending on market conditions, the union said Thursday. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA represents more than 9,000 flight attendants.

Mediated negotiations resumed on April 18 and lasted through the weekend after the union lost in several attempts to regain leverage.

Judges blocked their effort to strike after Northwest imposed terms, saying the airline had acted within the law. The union might have won back its right to strike if the National Mediation Board declared the talks at an impasse.

Instead, the NMB has repeatedly declined to end the talks, most recently last week. And a bankruptcy judge rejected the union's request to shrink the size of Northwest's demands, or to award it a bankruptcy claim.

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