Northwest issued its flight attendants preferred stock over a decade ago, in order to compensate for wage and benefit concessions. However the airline recently notified their employees that they might not be able to buy back the stock as was promised earlier. This lawsuit comes at a time when the industry is already struggling, and company executives fear that it may push them to bankruptcy. Northwest's inability to make good on its promise to buy back stocks also calls into question the company's request to use stocks to make mandatory pension contributions.
See Mary Williams Walsh, The New York Times, June 3, 2003