Northwest flight attendants okay bargaining agreement

NEW YORK Tue May 29, 2007 9:03pm EDT

Passengers read newspapers in front of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, February 6, 2006. Northwest Airlines Corp.'s <NWACQ.PK> flight attendants ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, the No. 5 U.S. carrier said on Tuesday as it prepares to exit bankruptcy. REUTERS/John Gress

Passengers read newspapers in front of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, February 6, 2006. Northwest Airlines Corp.'s <NWACQ.PK> flight attendants ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, the No. 5 U.S. carrier said on Tuesday as it prepares to exit bankruptcy.

Credit: Reuters/John Gress

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Northwest Airlines Corp.'s NWACQ.PK flight attendants ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, the No. 5 U.S. carrier said on Tuesday as it prepares to exit bankruptcy.

The company said flight attendants will receive a $182 million unsecured claim in the bankruptcy, which will be sold for cash, and then distributed to flight attendants upon the company's emergence from Chapter 11, which is scheduled for later this week.

The agreement also includes additional contract modifications designed to improve the flight attendants' work environment, the company said.

The carrier said earlier this month it will end its 19-month bankruptcy on May 31 with $2.5 billion in annual cost savings and an equity value of about $7.8 billion.

Northwest's Chapter 11 exit will mark the first time in five years that a major U.S. airline has not been in bankruptcy.

Employees have been outraged by the airline's $1.4 billion in labor cost savings made to facilitate its restructuring.

Flight attendants, in particular, had been riled by Northwest's use of its court permission to void their contract and impose wage and benefit cuts.

Employee discontent intensified this month when the company revealed a management compensation plan that awards Chief Executive Doug Steenland stock and options potentially worth more than $20 million as they vest over four years.

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