Oklahoma's Rapid Response Coalition

Thursday, October 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The terror attacks have created layoffs nationwide, including the Tulsa area, and more are expected.

State and local agencies have organized to support displaced workers. News on Six reporter Glenda Silvey looks at what's being done to get them through an uncertain time. When recent layoffs occurred at American Airlines, a support team was already mobilized. Oklahoma's Rapid Response Coalition is a federally funded program to assist workers laid off through no fault of their own.

Oklahoma works with local agencies to offer everything from job placement to counseling to stunned and anxious ex-employees. Linda Baird, Oklahoma Rapid Response coordinator: "They're very frightened of the unknown; they do not know what will happen, they do not know what resources are there for them or what they're going to do if there's any out there."

Rapid Response's goal is to ease those worries by offering complete job placement services. They also provide help with unemployment filing. "It is all automated now. We walk them through that. In this particular case, with American Airlines, we're going to make it easier than that. - We’re going to do it tape to tape." The Tulsa Area United Way shares how its member agencies can help dislocated workers, through Help line, for example, or counseling at Family and Children's Services.

Tom Albaugh with United Way: "They need to be a part of what's going on with the people that are being laid off - their families do, because it's tough on families when you're being laid off." Credit Counseling Centers is another United Way agency that assists the newly jobless, with prioritizing expenses and contacting creditors.

They also offer a job support center to assist with resumes and interview practice. Director Margo Mitchell offered this encouragement to dislocated workers: "It's a difficult process but people do survive. And I think once you go through the process of unemployment and some money problems, and you're back on your feet, you learn a lot of valuable lessons."

Baird says there are more resources and opportunities than people realize. "I don't want them to despair. We and everybody else is going to be there for them whenever they need us."