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Northwest Airlines to laid-off workers: rummage through the trash

by wsws (reposted)
Earlier this month Northwest Airlines, the fifth largest carrier in the US, sent soon-to-be-laid-off customer service workers and baggage handlers a handbook with “tips” for managing their unemployed state. The four-page booklet, “Preparing for a Financial Setback,” contains a section entitled, “101 ways to save money.” Among its patronizing or insulting suggestions: urging workers to shop in thrift stores and not be “shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”
The tract is part of a 150-page package sent to about 50 workers in Bismarck, North Dakota, Bozeman, Montana, and Austin, Texas, who are the first of several hundred ground workers slated to lose their jobs as their work is outsourced under a concessions pact reached earlier this year between the company and the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

In addition to containing an advertisement from the Caldwell Banker real estate agency offering to help sell a home, the airline pamphlet advises workers to borrow a dress for a “big night out,” bicycle to work, use old newspapers for cat litter, skip full-mouth x-rays unless there is a problem, use an optometrist rather than an ophthalmologist (a technician versus a medical doctor), get hand-me-down clothes and toys from family and friends and rent out part of one’s house.

Other propositions include taking a shorter shower, making one’s own baby food, taking a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods, making cards and gifts for friends, growing one’s own vegetables and herbs and searching “the internet for freebies.”

“If you have saved money, pat yourself on the back—you deserve it,” reads the booklet.

The layoffs are part of a contract ratified in June by the IAM, which represents some 14,000 Northwest baggage handlers, ticket agents and other ground workers nationwide. The contract also cuts the wages of the remaining ground workers by 11.5 percent, saving the airline, which is in bankruptcy, $190 million in annual labor costs.

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