Northwest Pilots OK Hefty Pay Cut

Leaders of the union for Northwest Airlines pilots endorsed a temporary contract that would cut the pilots' hourly pay rates by 23.9 percent, a move they say will give them time to negotiate a long-term contract.

The Air Line Pilots Association executive committee voted 8-2 Thursday in favor of recommending the pay cut to its members. If approved, the cuts would save Northwest about $215 million annually.

Hal Myers, a union spokesman, said the goal is to give the union more time to negotiate a long-term contract.

Northwest pilots currently earn $35,000 to $206,000 annually, depending on seniority and the planes they fly. They will vote on whether to accept the interim contract starting next week.

Last year, pilots agreed to a 15 percent wage reduction that is saving the company $250 million a year.

Northwest officials have said they want unions representing the pilots, flight attendants and ground workers to accept 60 percent of the permanent concessions the airline is seeking from each group by mid-November.

If the unions meet those terms, the airline said it would defer plans to ask a bankruptcy judge on Nov. 16 to cancel labor contracts.