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Letter written by the President of the Monroe-Lenawee County AFL-CIO Central Labor Council.

The following letter was published in the Monroe Evening News on August 28, 2005:

To the Editor:

NORTHWEST AIRLINES WANTS you to believe that the replacement mechanics that they have hired for the strike by the Aircraft Mechanics are as highly trained as the mechanics that have worked on Northwest planes for decades. They want you to believe that your safety won't be compromised by hiring mechanics who will be working on an aging fleet of Northwest planes for the first time in their lives, with just a few months of training to prepare them. This training consisted mostly of paperwork procedures and some classroom training. During the first few days of the strike they had four emergency landings in Detroit alone. Everything is fine, really.

The airline wants you to believe that it is perfectly okay to outsource the remainder of the maintenance to places like China and the Philippines, in spite of the fact that foreign mechanics are not subject to the same background checks and scrutiny as are those in the U. S.. They also want you to think that it is okay to use non-union low-wage maintenance facilities in this country. Even though the INS recently raided one of these facilities and found dozens of illegal aliens working on planes there. This is more than a safety issue; it is a homeland security issue.

Cutting comers in maintenance has already cost too many lives. In 2000, an Alaskan Airlines flight crashed killing 83 people. The National Safety Transportation Board recommended that Alaska make improvements in its maintenance program. They have since responded by laying off half of their maintenance workforce. In 2003, US Airways Express flight #5481 crashed killing 21 people. The NTSB attributed the accident, in part, to sub-standard maintenance by a third party contractor. I won't be flying Northwest Airlines during this strike. It's really not okay, regardless of how cheap the ticket price is. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Sincerely, L. Wm Conner, Jr.
Monroe-Lenawee County AFL-CIO Central Labor Council

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