Local News

Former Midway Employees Hit Unemployment Lines

Posted August 16, 2001

— Some of the 700 Midway workers who were laid off in the restructuring showed up Wednesday on the unemployment lines.

Several former Midway workers joined others out of work waiting to talk to job service counselors. Many are looking toward the

Employment Security Commission

for help.

"I'm expecting to get unemployment for at least six months until I find another job which I am actively doing now. There is the possibility of being recalled by the company, but no one knows where that is going to take us," says former Midway First Officer Eric Brionez.

Laid-off flight attendant Kristyn Kirkland had worked five months for Midway. She says she is just going to take it day by day.

"I'm not going to be paid for the last two weeks that I've worked. I'm not going to get any severance pay or anything like that," she says. "I wish it didn't happen. I really did enjoy my job. I had fun while it lasted."

Many former Midway employees blame management for the airlines' downfall. Laid-off workers Ben Booth and Alise Dickenson say they were not the only ones wondering why Midway was expanding in the past six months, in spite of the sagging economy.

"The employees could see the expansion was not going to work -- too many airplanes being bought. Too many new cities being added at one time," Booth says.

"[It was] too much, too fast. I could see it happening in a year or two," Dickenson says.

Bill Clancy says Midway's problems are deeper than that. He and 15 other former workers filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Midway earlier this year. He says high turnover often made Midway inefficient.

"Every day, morale was poor, very poor. We were understaffed. The management's philosophy was, Big deal. If we have turnovers, we can always go out and hire more employees," he says.

Midway CEO Bob Ferguson was not available for comment Wednesday. A company spokesman says when you hear the accusations the former employees make, you have to consider the source.

The rush to file unemployment is expected to affect ESC offices in Raleigh, Durham and Cary. Most of the former Midway employees will get unemployment benefits.

"It is our expectation that most of them will max out as far as unemployment insurance benefits are concerned, the max is $396 per week and most of them will max out in a period of 26 weeks," says Milton Walker of the Employment Security Commission.

Walker also says that most former Midway workers who are

filing for unemployment

will not receive their first check until the third week of their unemployment. ESC officials are trying to contact Midway company officials to find out how many people are expected to file and where they expect to file.

However, Midway Airlines is looking for help.

The company is reportedly negotiating a $10 million bank loan that could keep it operating for another two months.


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