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MINNEAPOLIS – Officials at NWA Federal Credit Union are adamant that their agreement to be the depository for dues collection from Northwest Airlines employees that belong to the Professional Flight Attendants Association has no political ties and is strictly a convenient and efficient way to help union members. Nor is the CU’s position connected to its ongoing dispute with Northwest Airlines over the company’s plans to evict NWA FCU from the airline’s properties unless the credit union pays Northwest Airlines royalty fees for use of the airline’s name and logo (CU Times, May 7). NWA FCU was recently approached by PFAA to allow for dues to be automatically deducted from member accounts, which must be initiated by union members through PFAA. Northwest Airlines had allowed dues deductions from employee paychecks, but the airlines said on June 23 that it wouldn’t allow the deductions for the newly chosen flight attendants union, citing contractual restrictions, said Gary Helton, PFAA secretary treasurer. PFAA recently unseated the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as the union representing the flight attendants. “We are not in the middle of this,” said John Wagner, NWA FCU’s vice president of marketing. “This is no different than setting up an automatic phone bill deduction. We just happened to have a lot of credit union members that belong to the union.” Wagner also said that the credit union enjoys “good relationships with all of the labor groups representing Northwest employees,” and they “look forward to continuing our good relationship with the PFAA and the other groups representing NWA employees.” More than 90% of Northwest’s flight attendants have accounts with the credit union. Roughly 11,000 Northwest employees belong to PFAA. Members who choose to participate must sign and submit a form to PFAA authorizing the deduction before any transaction can proceed. Northwest sent a letter to the credit union in March asking that the credit union pay the fees for the “free use of its logo and other company identifiers in NWA FCU advertising and promotions.” The airlines said it would be forced to evict the credit union from all of its properties if the fees, which NWA FCU President/CEO Paul Parrish said would amount to $6 million annually, weren’t paid. Parish said the use of the Northwest images on credit union materials such as checks and debit cards “has been the practice of the credit union since our founding in 1938 and we submit such uses to Northwest for their approval.” The airline later agreed in May to extend the July 5, 2003 subleases of several properties occupied by the credit union to March 21, 2004. Wagner said NWA FCU is moving forward in its search for other locations. Meanwhile, the union group filed a lawsuit on July 3 to get Northwest Airlines to honor the terms of the labor contract covering the airline’s flight attendants. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to force Northwest to permit union dues to be deducted from flight attendants’ paychecks. The lawsuit also seeks compensation for the amount of dues and service fees that the PFAA has been unable to collect since it replaced the Teamsters as the flight attendants’ collective bargaining agent on June 20. After that date, Northwest refused to make the “required payroll deductions,” pointing to a contract clause designed to erase this requirement if the Teamsters were ever replaced, Helton said. Northwest Spokeswoman Mary Stanik declined to comment on the lawsuit or the dues collection changes. -

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