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Protesters disrupt Northwest Airlines meeting

SHARE Protesters disrupt Northwest Airlines meeting

Northwest Airlines Corp. ended its annual meeting early Friday after protesters frustrated with drawn-out negotiations between the company and its flight attendants began yelling and making speeches.

The talks have been ongoing for 2 1/2 years and are in mediation.Chairman Gary Wilson ended the meeting, which was held in New York, and said he would individually answer the stack of written questions that had been submitted by employees and shareholders.

Jon Austin, a spokesman for the Eagan, Minn.-based airline, said the man and woman who began the disruption did not appear to be flight attendants, but two or three other people who joined in were wearing Northwest uniforms.

Between 50 and 75 uniformed flight attendants attended the meeting, he said.

Officials of Teamsters Local 2000 did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. Most union officials had attended the meeting, a receptionist at the union's Minneapolis headquarters said.

Billie Davenport, president of Local 2000 who was at the annual meeting, said earlier that progress was being made in the negotiations but salary, retirement, job protection and scheduling issues remained unsettled.

"These issues are the guts and soul of what we do," Davenport said in a recorded message on the union's member hot line.

Another negotiating session is scheduled to begin Wednesday in Washington, with National Mediation Board member Maggie Jacobsen attending.

There were no disruptions during the formal business meeting, Austin said, and the election of Northwest's board of directors proceeded without incident.