American Dream job seekers concerned over transportation, pay

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

With its scheduled soft opening just six weeks away, American Dream Meadowlands held another in a series of job fairs Friday designed to enroll the army of workers the complex will need.

Recruiters used megaphones to entice jobseekers as applicants circulated amongst  decorated booths at Bergen Community College in Paramus, hoping to snag one of some 1,200 openings at retailers like Eddie Bauer, UGG, and Love Pop — an origami greeting-card company — that will be based at the sprawling complex in the Meadowland Sports Complex in East Rutherford.

“Job fair! Get your dream job at Sephora,” one recruiter yelled.

“We have about four potential hires already. So we’re very excited,” said Raj Tokhi, district manager for LovePop, adding that the company needed five more applicants.

Charleys Philly Steaks still needs 35 restaurant workers; paying roughly $10 an hour, the company’s recruiters were having a hard time.

“I think they want a little bit more money, said trainer David Moreno. “They want an office job, stuff like that. We’re in the restaurant business.”

Developer Triple Five’s complex combines a shopping mall with indoor theme and water parks and other entertainment options. But salary can be sticking point in a place like New Jersey where the cost of living is high.

“I cannot survive with my social security,” said Haresh Shah, a jobseeker from Carlstadt. “So I need some part time or full-time job.”

Leyda Saenz of Wyckoff worries as much about the commute to American Dream as the pay. The complex is expected to draw thousands of motorists to the already congested region when it opens on Oct. 25.

“The traffic is going to be a little difficult for me,” she said. “And in the mornings, Route 3 or the NJ Turnpike — I was trying to find out something better.”

NJ Transit recently released a plan to enhance bus service to the complex, with new express routes and adding the complex as a stop on a handful of existing routes. It is not immediately adding any rail service, however.

A Jersey City recruiter for veterans also worried about transportation.

“Everyone doesn’t have a vehicle,” said Terrell Washington, president of the city’s Veterans Advisory Task Force. “They want to work, but they can’t get to work.”

Jobseeker Damian Bates of Jersey City said he would find a way.

“If you really want something, you’ll go out there and get it, you know what I’m saying, no matter what it is,” he said.

American Dream had no comment about the job fair and how well it’s doing in finding employees. In fact, a representative asked NJTV News to leave the job fair, even though the event was open to the public.

Among the American Dream tenants also participating at the job fair were Eddie Bauer, Torrid, Uniqlo, ALAD, Century 21 Stores, H&M, Hollister and Primark.

Recruiters from Big Snow, the operator of the indoor ski run at the complex, were also on hand.

American Dream also had a booth, where a wide-screen TV showed a propriety video with updated images from the megamall’s interior.

The company did say they are planning three hiring events at the community college – to hire lifeguards for its  indoor water park.