Drumright community hit hard by closing of Avis reservation center

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Corporate layoffs hit home. When Avis made cuts Tuesday, more than a hundred people in Creek County lost their jobs. News on Six reporter Diane White says several hundred people work in Avis' main office in Tulsa.

KOTV learned Tuesday; some of them may have lost their jobs. Employees told me Avis laid off Tulsa workers Tuesday afternoon - we were not able to confirm it with Avis' corporate office. We do know Avis DID close its reservation center in Drumright Tuesday. Hugs and words of encouragement were all workers could offer each other. They'd just learned Avis Rental Corporation was closing its call center in Drumright - effective immediately. Josh Rogers, Former Avis Employee: "It's just hard for everybody to walk out of this place - harder than everybody thought it would be." Josh Rogers and his fellow workers could be victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Avis says its business has suffered, car rental reservations are down and it had to make cuts. These workers say their problems started before then. "There was really a drop in call volume and stuff like that before September 11th but that just brought it all down even worse - a downhill effect.” Sally Blair, Former Avis Employee: "Our call volume was way low before September 11th. I think 9-11 was an easy out for them - to say that's what we're going to do." Avis is offering 60-day severance packages with salary and benefits. Employees could also transfer to Tulsa. “To go up there we have to take a cut in pay, so it's not going to do any good to drive if you're going to use it up in gas and time and everything else."

With 120 employees, the Avis reservation center was Drumright's second largest employer. Six years ago, the town celebrated Avis' arrival in town - when it moved into this downtown building. Soon - it will be empty - but there is hope on the horizon.

City leaders are talking with another company about moving into Avis’ old space - which would mean new jobs. Ed Tinker, Drumright City Manager: "Not as many - but good quality jobs and somewhat the same type - computer types. We're excited about that. We'll recover, it's a strong community.”

Avis will meet with Drumright workers this week to discuss severance packages.