Many former Enron workers find new jobs

Dec. 2, 2002 at 5:13 PM
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HOUSTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A year after filing the nation's largest bankruptcy case, Enron Corp. is struggling to survive under Chapter 11 protection, a few former executives face federal charges, and many laid-off employees have found new careers.

Under the interim leadership of Chief Executive Officer Stephen Cooper, a much smaller Enron is focusing on its core businesses -- pipelines and power plants -- after selling off many of its other assets to stay in business during reorganization.

At the same time, a few former Enron executives have been indicted on federal charges in connection with the collapse of the Houston energy trader. The most prominent defendant so far has been Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer.

Fastow allegedly used off-balance-sheet partnerships to enrich himself and hide the troubled financial condition of Enron. The 40-year-old former executive pleaded innocent Nov. 6 to the federal charges of fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

In the meantime, many of the 4,500 Enron employees who were laid off in Houston after the bankruptcy filing a year ago Monday are finding new jobs and careers, according to Rod Jordan, who heads the Severed Enron Employees Coalition.

A recent survey of the members found about 70 percent of the 200 who responded have found new jobs, started businesses or are happy with their situation, he told United Press International Monday.

"It is encouraging that 70 percent of them have found jobs but discouraging that 10 percent of them still have not found anything," Jordan said.

About 10 percent have not found jobs, another 10 percent found jobs but then were laid off again, and the remaining 10 percent were unsatisfied with the jobs that they found.

About 31, like Jordan, have started their own businesses and some of them hope to grow big enough to offer jobs to other "Enroners" in the future, he said.

"For a while I was afraid that people maybe wouldn't hire Enroners because they were Enron, but I haven't seen that," he said. "I've actually seen the opposite in some cases because of the empathy for our situation."

The employees group has also been influential in helping win additional severance for the former workers. In August, a $28.8 million severance package was approved by the bankruptcy judge in New York.

Eligible former workers received up to $13,500 in addition to the $5,678 in severance they received when Enron filed for bankruptcy.

The additional severance was approved after six months of talks between Enron, its creditors and the Enron Employment-Related Issues Committee, the AFL-CIO and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition.

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