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Interview with Ted Ludwig, President of AMFA Local 33

"NWA workers need to step out of line and be counted"

by staff |
September 1, 2005
Ludwig with banner: "An injury to one is an injury to all."
Ted Ludwig, President of AMFA Local 33, speaking at the Aug. 27 rally. (Fight Back! News/Brad Sigal)

Fight Back! interviewed Ted Ludwig, president of Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) Local 33, the union that is leading the strike against Northwest Airlines.

Fight Back! : What does Northwest Airlines want? Why was it necessary for mechanics to strike?

Ted Ludwig: NWA is asking us to commit suicide as an organization. They want to reduce our ranks by 53% - on top of the 50% they have already reduced us by over the last two years. The remaining 47% of workers would be required to take a 25% pay cut and pay more for medical benefits. They also want us to wipe out complete classifications of our ranks - cleaners, custodians and plant maintenance. To top it all off, NWA offered to protect 75% of the remaining workers, who are under 25% pay reductions, until they retire. At that point, NWA would not fill their position, but farm that much more work out. So within ten years, there would be no more AMFA at NWA. As you can see, every aspect of their negotiations has been geared to bust our union. Why are they so afraid of us?

Fight Back!: Some in organized labor are hostile towards AMFA because mechanics and cleaners at Northwest left the IAM [International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers] and the AFL-CIO. What would you like to say about their complaints?

Ted Ludwig
: I do not know why other unions are hostile at AMFA for leaving the IAM, other than politics. I have heard many reports of AMFA raiding the IAM. To me that insinuates that we were forced to switch, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. We had a democratic election where the majority of our members voted to join AMFA. It was real simple. Why would anyone be hostile at someone for exercising their right to vote? To me, this hostility toward other union members is the worst thing that can ever happen to labor and I am disgusted with it.

Fight Back! : Why is the strike at Northwest Airlines so important for the airline workers and for all of organized labor?

Ted Ludwig
: If a company is successful in breaking a union, why wouldn’t every other company want to give it a try? In my opinion, NWA is making an example out of our group to show the rest of the workers here not to step out of line. Now more then ever, the NWA workers need to step out of line and be counted. Whether or not you like other unions or not, we either stand together for all workers, or NWA will pick us off one at a time.