[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[FYI] (Fwd) US court orders seizure of Northwest flight attendants' home computers

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Mon, 14 Feb 2000 19:57:46 -0500
To:             	politech@vorlon.mit.edu
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: World Socialists condemn Northwest employees computer seizure
Copies to:      	editor@wsws.org
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com


US court orders seizure of Northwest flight attendants' home

By Jerry White
11 February 2000

Northwest Airlines last week began court-authorized searches of the
home computers of flight attendants whom the airline suspects
organized a sick-out over the New Year's holiday. Two computer
forensic experts, hired by Northwest, seized the computers of a
rank-and-file flight attendant who operates a web site and electronic
bulletin boards, and copied the hard drives from the computers of 21
individuals, including private e-mail messages. The investigators also
spent two hours searching computers at the Bloomington, Minnesota
offices of Teamsters Local 2000, which represents Northwest's 11,000
flight attendants.

Last month, after a high number of sick calls from flight attendants
forced the company to cancel flights over New Years, Northwest sued
the union and individually-named flight attendants, alleging they had
violated federal law by orchestrating a sick-out. US District Judge
Donovan Frank in St. Paul, Minnesota agreed and issued a temporary
restraining order prohibiting Teamsters Local 2000, its leaders and
specific flight attendants from encouraging or participating in
"sick-outs" or other illegal job actions. The judge gave Northwest the
right to seek evidence relating to the job action, including searching
through the e-mails of 43 individuals, well beyond the number of
people named in the original lawsuit.

The company has particularly targeted two dissident flight attendants,
Kevin Griffin of Honolulu and Ted Reeve of North Hollywood,
California, who operate web sites and electronic bulletin boards that
have been critical of both the company and the union. Flight
attendants have been fighting for a new contract since September 1996
and are anxious to recoup concessions that the union granted to the
now highly profitable airline earlier in the decade. Last August,
flight attendants used Internet forums to organize the overwhelming
defeat of a contract proposal endorsed by Local 2000 and Teamsters
General President James Hoffa.

Northwest accuses Griffin and Reeve of inciting the alleged job
action. The company's attorneys cited anonymous postings calling for a
sick-out on Griffin's message board nwaflightattendants.com during the
request for a temporary restraining order. These messages were usually
followed by urgings from Griffin that participants not advocate
illegal activities.

Griffin, a veteran Northwest flight attendant, was forced to surrender
his Packard Bell desktop and Fujitsu laptop to investigators from the
firm of Ernst & Young last week. The two examiners flew to Hawaii from
their Washington DC and Texas offices to confiscate the machines.
Afterwards Griffin said, "I didn't think they had the right to come
and get your home computer."

Jon Austin, a spokesman for Northwest, defended the search, saying,
"In the age we live in, the normal course of discovery includes taking
depositions, producing documents and these days more than ever looking
into the content of computers. So many documents and communications
these days are purely electronic in nature," he said.


---- POLITECH -- the moderated mailing list of politics and technology
To subscribe: send a message to majordomo@vorlon.mit.edu with this
text: subscribe politech More information is at
------- End of forwarded message -------