BY N.G. Onuoha
At Radio City Music Hall, increased holiday traffic prompted the annual hiring of seasonal employees in need of holiday cash – and for some, the possibility of a permanent job.
In the two and half years since being hired as a seasonal usher at Radio City Music Hall, and then kept on, Gail Hurdle has never missed a day of work. The job means everything to Hurdle, who was hired at Radio City Music Hall on West 49 Street and Sixth Avenue after losing her cashier job at Sears. “I got the email telling me to come in for an interview,” said the 43-year-old. “I was happy. I thought, ‘here is a chance for me to start over again.’”
Hurdle—who is called “Mama Gail” by younger co-workers— now watches new seasonal employees work hard for possible long-term positions after the Christmas season. “They bring in cookies and cakes for bosses,” said Hurdle. “But I tell them ‘just come, do your job and always put your best foot forward,’ and a lot of them listen to me. A lot of them got hired and a lot of them got called back for this year.”
According to the November 2012 jobs report released by Automatic Data Processing (ADP), businesses with 50 to 499 employees added 33,000 more jobs to the economy, nationwide. The national November jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor showed an overall increase as well, in all businesses —the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent as employers added an estimated 146,000 jobs to the economy.
Though the holiday season started the week of Thanksgiving for consumers, November jobs reports show employment preparation began weeks in advance. The full seasonal adjustment numbers will appear in the December jobs report, released on the first Friday of January.
April McDonald has been a seasonal employee of Radio City Music Hall for three years. “I applied online,” said McDonald, who lives in the Bronx. “I had no job. Now, I’m a re-hire, and I don’t know when I’m going to become permanent.”
At the beginning of each Christmas season, the 22-year-old—who now has a second job at a Harlem Pathmark—returns to the legendary music venue hoping to make enough money to buy Christmas presents for her family and to re-unite with permanent employees she worked with the previous year. She admitted, though, that she would be happy when the seasonal employment period is over on December 30th. Balancing two jobs is stressful – as is seeing the Rockettes perform every day. McDonald estimates that she has seen the holiday show more than 1,000 times. “It gets annoying,” said McDonald. “You know the songs word for word. You know the dances step by step.”
“…But then when you see the little kids and they’re excited,” she added. “It makes you really happy knowing that they’re happy.”