Hundreds Gather to Support Northwest Strikers

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday in support of striking Northwest Airlines (NWAC) workers, one week after union members walked off the job.

About 4,400 mechanics, cleaners and custodians represented by the Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association (search) are refusing to take pay cuts and layoffs that would have reduced their ranks by nearly half and the wages of those remaining by about 25 percent. No new talks have been scheduled.

"Spirits are up. There's a good feeling out there," strike coordinator Mike Klemm (search) said. "We all know this was forced upon us and everyone is determined to see it through."

Mechanic Bob Williams said he's been working on a resume, but hasn't looked for jobs yet. His wife, Denise, and daughters Emily, 12, and Rachel, 10, made signs for the rally reading "FLY SAFE NWA. BRING MY DADDY BACK."

Union leaders believe the airline is manipulating its departure and arrival information to make it look like there has been little disruption from the strike. But Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch (search) called the allegations "completely baseless."

Ebenhoch said operational performance has improved steadily since the strike.

"The biggest impact on our flight schedule right now is Hurricane Katrina," he said.

The union said it would continue to focus on getting replacement workers to quit. On Tuesday members plan to picket a Minneapolis hotel where leaders say many of the replacement workers are staying.

Dozens of union members wore T-shirts that read "Scab Hunter."

"Clearly, they know what they're doing is wrong," Steve MacFarlane, AMFA's assistant national director, said of the replacement workers. "If we challenge them in that situation, often they'll leave."