Northwest Airlines Corp. gate workers and flight attendants are informally talking to members of Congress as they travel in an attempt to make sure the final version of pension reform legislation includes a provision giving airlines 20 years to fully fund their pension plans, compared with seven years for most other industries.
Andrea Fischer Newman, chief lobbyist for the Eagan, Minn.-based airline, said this isn't an organized lobbying effort by Northwest employees. "They are not doing this rudely," said Ms. Newman. "I've gotten calls from employees in Michigan and other places from agents who, when they see a congressman in an airport or on a plane, have said, 'Sir, please save my retirement benefits.' Obviously, they know these members of Congress. These members are frequent flyers."
Legislators approached by Northwest employees include Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Jim Ramstad and John Kline, both Republican representatives from Minnesota, Ms. Newman said.
Northwest manages about $5.5 billion in pension assets and is underfunded by about $3.7 billion.