Northwest Airlines Workers Incensed Over Cost-Cutting Idea List

August 16, 2006 ( - Northwest Airlines Corp. suggested to workers it was laying off that they save money by buying jewelry at pawnshops, getting auto parts at junkyards and taking shorter showers.

Northwest gave out 60 of the booklets containing the controversial list before getting complaints about it, according to a Bloomberg news report.

Other suggestions included:

  • giving homemade cards and gifts
  • asking doctors for prescription-drug samples
  • borrowing a dress for “a big night out” and
  • giving children hand-me-down toys and clothes.

Proclaimed the list: “Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

“This is disgraceful that somebody at Northwest Airlines would send this out to a long-term employee facing having no job telling them to do certain things that are very degrading,” Robert Roach Jr., general vice president of transportation for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told Bloomberg.

Northwest backed away from the list after workers complained. “We sincerely apologize to our employees for any offense this list caused them,” Crystal Knotek, senior vice president for ground operations, told Bloomberg. “We have taken appropriate action with our managers and vendors to ensure that all materials are properly reviewed in the future.”

The 165-page booklet was created for Northwest by NEAS, an employee assistance company based in Waukesha, Wisconsin.Part of the booklet dealt with coping with job loss, options for job transfers within Northwest and relocation advice, Northwest said.

Northwest, the fifth-largest US. airline, is reducing pay and benefits and shedding jobs as it trims labor spending by $1.4 billion annually to exit bankruptcy as soon as 2007. The job cuts include 1,000 machinists as well as members of other unions.