updated 7/1/2005 12:36:16 PM ET 2005-07-01T16:36:16

A union representing mechanics at Northwest Airlines Corp. has authorized a strike vote as the airline attempts to cut annual labor costs by $1.1 billion.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said Friday its members at Northwest will be sent ballots and have until 10 a.m. July 19 to cast their votes on whether to authorize a strike, the union said.

Mechanics reversed months of tough talk June 24 and said they'd consider wage cuts. So far only the airline's pilots have agreed to cuts.

AMFA said it offered cuts it calculates at $143.5 million. It has said Northwest wants $176 million in savings from mechanics.

Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest did not immediately respond to a call by The Associated Press seeking comment.

Both sides have made strike preparations.

The company recently laid off about 700 mechanics and related workers in the Twin Cities. Managers have told union negotiators they want to cut about 2,000 more jobs across the Northwest system and save $176 million a year by reducing pay and benefits.

Northwest lost $458 million on operating revenue of $2.8 billion in the first quarter.

Talks between the two sides began in October. A mediator got involved in February.

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