Helping former Fleming workers find jobs

Thursday, September 18th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Workers from Fleming Foods are getting a helping hand as they seek new jobs. Last month, between 200 and 300 workers got pink slips when Fleming announced it had sold its east Tulsa distribution center and that it would shut down.

As News on 6 business reporter Steve Berg tells us, Thursday they got the lead out. A pencil is the tool of the trade for Mark Brant these days, now that he's been laid off from Fleming Foods. "Until you go through it, you really don't know what to expect and it kind of hits you hard."

They may not have jobs, but it's still a lot of work to go through the pages and pages of paperwork to get their unemployment benefits. So workers from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission's Rapid Response team were helping guide them through the process.

Lynda Baird mixes her instructions with a good dose of encouragement. "I've been doing this for about 15 years now, and you see people in distressed situations like this and you know what they're facing. The fear of the unknown has got to be the worst thing ever." Mark Brant: "It's a very emotional roller-coaster especially when you've just purchased a house a year ago, and having other things come up."

The workers are meeting at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union because state officials say, for some reason; Fleming didn't want to have these sessions at the company. Lynda Baird, "Typically, it happens yes, exactly, it happens at the company and we are able to speak to the employees before they're laid off from their job, that way it's so much easier for them."

But Brant at least, is keeping a cheerful outlook. "With Tulsa growing like it is, and you know, one sector might be going down, another sector might be going up, you just don't know what the opportunities are that are out there."