Northwest union strike closely scrutinized

Striking Northwest mechanics know they are being closely watched, and that what happens to them could have a ripple effect throughout many industries.

Billy Brant is the Memphis spokesperson for the mechanics.

"Regardless of what area you're in if there's a union job that does the same thing we bring the wages up, the rest of the country matches us," he said.  "We try to earn a decent living."

That means higher costs for industry and that's why so many companies are watching to see if Northwest can last without paying union wages.

Doctor Jeff Schultz, a Christian Brothers University Professor, says so far the Northwest Strike is striking out in the court of public opinion.

"Unions cannot play hardball and threaten to go on strike like they could in previous years," he said.  "The unions almost have to take what the companies are offering them. They are in a very bad position because of this."

Raymond Neidl, an airline analyst, says Northwest is following the lead of low cost airlines and to be sure Delta and other major carriers are watching.

"Most airlines are looking eventually at outsourcing," he said.  "There's a lot of independent contractors out there both in the U.S. and outside the U.S. that have excess capacity and are looking for this business."

Striker Billy Bryant says if that happens, at least he'll know he fought for his job.