As if the airline industry didn't have enough problems, what with
pilots getting sick all at once and passengers demanding to be
treated like, well, passengers, it looks like things are going from
bad to worse. The Rat has entered the fray.
Last week's Northwest Airlines Corp. annual meeting saw labor
leaders lambasting management over any number of alleged raw deals
and management suggesting that everybody raise their hands before
asking questions. Ho hum. What elevated the significance of this
particular labor dispute was the presence of The Rat.
As most New Yorkers know, there lurks about town a humongous
inflatable rat that mysteriously appears at every important labor
rally. The rodent -- roughly the size of an average New York
brownstone -- is a sure sign that labor means business.
Up until now, similar airline squabbles have been the concern of
the travel industry, ticket holders and the trade press. With The
Rat in the game, Northwest may finally get the attention it