Flight attendants at

Northwest Airlines

(NWACQ)

have voted against a new contract, and now a judge will determine whether the carrier can end the workers' existing labor deal.

"The flight attendants understood how harsh and unfair the bankruptcy process can be to loyal employees. The company went too far," Professional Flight Attendant Association President Guy Meek said in a statement. "The flight attendants rejected this contract and continue to reject the continuing mismanagement of the airline, as well as the everyday mistreatment of

Northwest employees."

Union negotiators and the Minnesota-based carrier had reached a tentative pact earlier this year for an arrangement that would have provided Northwest with $195 million in concessions. The PFAA represents 9,300 flight attendants at Northwest. The next step will be for a federal judge to rule on the company's bid to have the flight attendants' contract terminated.

"The tentative agreement was a product of extensive negotiations involving substantial compromise on the part of Northwest Airlines and PFAA's negotiating committee," said Mike Becker, senior vice president of human resources and labor relations at the airline. "We reached a consensual agreement with the union's negotiating committee whom the flight attendants chose to represent them. Importantly, that agreement held out the best hope for preserving flight attendant jobs."

Northwest, the world's fifth-biggest airline, filed for Chapter 11 last September, and the carrier has been seeking concessions from its unions in order to save about $1.4 billion a year.

Last month, Northwest reported a first-quarter loss, excluding reorganization and unusual items, of $129 million. Including the one-time costs, Northwest lost $1.1 billion for the quarter. Operating revenue was $2.9 billion, up 3.3% from the same quarter last year.

Northwest also said it's filing a motion with the bankruptcy court asking for a preliminary injunction to prevent a threatened strike by the flight attendants' union. The airline believes a work stoppage by its flight attendants would be illegal under the Railway Labor Act, the law that governs airline labor issues.