Local News

Midway Employees Flock To Job Fair

Posted August 17, 2001 4:23 a.m. EDT

— Southwest Airlines is trying to help out some of the 700 Midway Employees who were laid off this week.

The airline is hosting

a two-day job fair

at the Hilton Gardens Inn in Morrisville. It takes place Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Representatives from Southwest Airlines are flying in from all over the country to attend the job fair. They will conduct interviews on the spot and say many people will walk away with a new job.

About 700 Midway employees showed up for work Tuesday only to find out they no longer had a job. As employment offices across the Triangle began to fill up, Southwest looked at their employment needs and put together a plan.

"We need more customer service agents, more pilots, more flight attendants. We're adding more aircraft to our fleet," says Jennifer Hanson of Southwest Airlines.

The low-cost carrier says Midway employees can help them fill their employment holes.

Not all of the Southwest jobs are in the Triangle. Other cities include Baltimore, M.D., Manchester, N.H., Providence, R.I., Kansas City, Mo., and San Jose, Calif.

"I loved working the gates. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and I am hoping that I can get that same type of position with Southwest," says former Midway employee Eileen Gibbons.

Former Midway employee Tara Anderson had worked for the company for just one week.

"Southwest is making a great business decision with them trying to hire us. Now, everybody thinks Southwest is a savior," she says.

Former employees are asked to bring a resume with a 10-year employment and residential history.

"Short of passing a drug screening, they should know that by the time they leave [whether] they are a potential SWA employee," says Hanson.

Southwest Airlines says it is growing while Midway cuts back. Two years ago, Southwest had 12 flights out of RDU; today there are 19 flights with plans to add more routes soon.

Southwest has also changed its policy to help Midway ticket holders. It says that it will accommodate Midway passengers on a confirmed basis rather than have them fly standby.

According to federal law, all Midway's accounting must now be approved by a bankruptcy court.

Lawyers representing the airline say they asked the court for permission to pay back wages to laid-off employees, but their request was denied. The state board of labor says that decision violates North Carolina labor laws, but former employees do have legal options.

The bankruptcy court will pay back wages to laid off employees before settling other company debts. Former workers just need to file the proof of claim form they get in the mail.