Northwest may lay off mechanics

Northwest Airlines has notified the state Department of Workforce Development that it will use replacement mechanics if the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) strike on Aug. 19. The move that could cost nearly 60 Milwaukee employees their jobs.

Officials said approximately 1,000 replacement mechanics would do line maintenance at Northwest’s hubs in the Twin Cities, Detroit and Memphis.

Northwest says it wants to to maintain normal operations during a strike.

Northwest and AMFA continue to negotiate during a 30-day cooling-off period. AMFA members have authorized a strike, which could begin as soon as Aug. 19 at 11:01 p.m.

Northwest has filed a mass layoff notice with the state covering its mechanics at General Mitchell International Airport.

The airline said in the notice that if the workers go on strike, workers may be placed on “on-strike” status or be laid off and that it would likely outsource some or all of the work now performed by AMFA-represented employees.

The airline said it does not believe the notice filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) applies, but it made the filing “out of an abundance of caution” if the law does apply.

Northwest (NASDAQ: NWAC) has said it needs to reduce labor costs by at least $1.1 billion to avert bankruptcy. The carrier has proposed eliminating 2,031 mechanics, or nearly half of the workforce.

The airline has also asked the remaining 2,381 mechanics to take a 26 percent pay cut. The sides are still talking during the cooling-off period that must precede a strike.