When he saw a “now hiring” sign outside a new fast-food pizza joint near his house, Andre Earl got in line and waited over an hour for a minute-long interview.
Earl, who’s 30, was one of over 200 people who streamed through Little Caesars Pizza shop Thursday at the corner of Ella T. Grasso Boulevard and Whalley Avenue. The store is set to open Sept. 10 in a space formerly occupied by Dunkin’ Donuts.
Earl said he’s been searching for work for six years, since the toy store he was working in at the Milford Mall closed. He said he has put in applications up and down Whalley Avenue to no avail.
At 11:30 a.m., he stepped inside the restaurant to make his pitch. He met manager Jerry Maldonado, who was interviewing candidates in rapid-fire fashion, then grading them on an A to F basis.
“Do you want a job, or need a job?” Maldonado asked him.
“I want a job and need a job,” Earl replied.
Earl said he has worked before at a Burger King.
“I have a clean record,” Earl added.
“I don’t worry about that. I care about the person,” Maldonado replied.
Maldonado said he’d be calling people back on Saturday with job offers.
Maldonado said he is looking to hire 45 people, about 15 of them full-time, for the latest outpost of the national chain restaurant. Workers make minimum wage, $8.25 per hour.
The rush of applicants highlighted the high demand for jobs in New Haven, which has a 12.4 percent unemployment rate.
The store advertised it would be holding interviews from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Maldonado said when he got to the store at 7 a.m., there were already half a dozen people waiting in line. The line continued down the sidewalk throughout the day. By 11 a.m., Maldonado said he had already interviewed over 200 people. Prior to Thursday, he received 500 job applications in paper, he said.
People standing in line included some of the 100 people per month returning to New Haven from prison.
Maldonado said he doesn’t exclude people who have a criminal record. Four people with felony convictions were “in contention” for the jobs as of 11 a.m., he said.
Andrew Jordan (pictured) was one of at least 10 people who showed up at Little Caesars after graduating from STRIVE New Haven, a three-week job readiness program. Jordan, 22, said the program focused on how to dress, build a resume, present himself in interviews and make eye contact. He said he’s done all kinds of jobs, including driving, landscape, janitorial, and working with little kids. He currently works for his aunt in transportation; he’s looking for a second part-time job.
He waited for over 90 minutes for his chance to make his case to Maldonado.
“This goes to show that a lot of people need jobs,” said Tina Alford (pictured), who was waiting in line at 11:30.
Alford, who’s 31, said she has been looking for work for about six months. She just got her 3-year-old son into Head Start pre-K, which will free her up to work. She said she has worked as a certified nursing assistant, as well as at Popeye’s and McDonald’s. She said the fast-food industry is not her top pick: “No one likes to do it because they work you like a slave and you don’t make any money.”
But “it’s getting close to Christmas,” and to her kids’ birthdays, “so this is better than nothing,” she said.
posted by: Hieronymous on September 5, 2013 3:16pm
This is why I love NHI. Imagine approaching the editor of a broadsheet and trying to convince her to cut out a few inches of paid advertising for a story about Little Caesars interviewing job applicants, especially when the proposed headline isn’t “Little Caesars Apparently Still Exists.
And yet stories like this (and, to take just one other shining example, that story about Amistad graduation a few months back), which report on seemingly minor “news,” actually show us a whole lot about our city, at least when they’re reported well. (Probably no coincidence that those two stories share a byline.) So . . . thanks!
Also, kudos to Jerry Maldonado for not excluding convicts. It’d be nice if they paid more, but, I presume that’s not in his hands.
Earl, who’s 30, was one of over 200 people who streamed through Little Caesars Pizza shop Thursday at the corner of Ella T. Grasso Boulevard and Whalley Avenue. The store is set to open Sept. 10 in a space formerly occupied by Dunkin’ Donuts….Maldonado said he is looking to hire 45 people, about 15 of them full-time, for the latest outpost of the national chain restaurant. Workers make minimum wage, $8.25 per hour.
This is something everyone needs to know, and the mayoral candidates need to address. Toni Harp claims to be the pro-labor candidate, but she has made no mention of the plight of the working poor in New Haven. Its past time to require a “Living Wage” within the boundaries of our community. Unless we wish to perpetuate the same old problems of crime, violence, addiction, etc., we need to raise the minimum wage.
posted by: wendy1 on September 5, 2013 6:57pm
I agree with Josh. The minimum wage is appalling. A living wage is $30/hour—that means you dont have to work multiple jobs.
Meanwhile “New Haven Works” at a glacial pace and the “Job Pipeline” needs a plumber.
I suggest people read Philip Slater’s A Dream Deferred and the Pursuit of Loneliness. There is a solution out there and mighty changes are coming.
posted by: jayfairhaven on September 5, 2013 8:06pm
yes, truly staggering work at a heartbreaking wage. it may also kind of stagger you to be reminded that the true minimum wage is $0, which is what unemployed folks make. good luck to the applicants. a higher minimum wage means more people making $0
posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 5, 2013 8:17pm
Yale and the Hospital are the largest employers in New Haven. They set the area wages and they are not generous.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 5, 2013 10:02pm
posted by: Josh Levinson on September 5, 2013 3:50pm Wow. This is kind of heartbreaking. The amount of competition for minimum wage jobs is staggering
You think they got it bad.Read this.
The Deliverymen’s Uprising
For $1.75 an hour, they put up with abusive employers, muggers, rain, snow, potholes, car accidents, six-day weeks, and lousy tips.
I wish everyone paid a living wage…however until it is a national law, mandating living wage locally is foolish. Do you think Little Caesar’s would have opened in that location if they had to double wages and they had the option to pay minimum wage somewhere else?
posted by: elmcityresident on September 6, 2013 9:51am
@Dwightstreeter you are so correct i work at Yale for MANY years and alot of their employees are working hand to mouth (struggling)our wages dont reflect today economy at all! and Yale is steady buying up the WHOLE CONNECTICUT!
posted by: ProUnion on September 6, 2013 10:18am
From the looks of the photos provided, I can see why so many people are unemployed in New Haven. One woman has her shirt hanging off and is exposing her shoulders, I see a lot of people wearing jeans and t-shirts, and the woman standing behind Andrew Jordon doesn’t exactly have the appearance of the friendliest person to be working in any sort of job requiring customer contact. If more people presented themselves like Mr. Jordon, perhaps they’d have a better chance of landing a job. I know looks do not define a person however you could be the most qualified candidate and an employer won’t even give you the time of day because you do not present yourself properly. Let’s get it together New Haven.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 6, 2013 12:54pm
This story just makes you sad. I thank god everyday for my job. We allowed our city to lose all its manufacturing and blue collar jobs. And I know we have programs to help people get college ect. but reality is, not everyone is college people. I have a child that fits in that group and he drive to ansonia everyday for a factory job. We brag about our tech and healthcare growth, and the new jobs created…BUT those jobs are not blue collar jobs. So when people promise jobs creation ect. they are not the jobs that many can apply for. (mostly the people that are promised more jobs…but not jobs they will be able to get! More jobs for suburban college grad jobs!)
We need to get the harbor back up and going, we need to make it the meka it use to be…we have the train system to be a great harbor that would provide those good jobs…but all we work on on are the jobs for college people! When these few hundred plus many more are the people we should be growing jobs for!!
posted by: elmcityresident on September 6, 2013 1:45pm
ProUnion did you ever stop to think that just maybe they don’t have any dressier clothes than what they have?! and did you mother ever teach you not to judge a person on looks?how do you know she’s not thinking about something? the one good think is that ALL of these PEOPLE got up that morning to look for a job!!! at least their trying..if more employer give my people a chance then just maybe they’ll be able to go out and buy the appriopriate attire that’s needed!
posted by: anonymous on September 6, 2013 2:22pm
Are there any restaurants in New Haven that pay their workers a living wage, and that only use ingredients from suppliers that pay their workers a living wage?
If not, maybe somebody should set one up because I’m sure it would attract good business.