BUSINESS
12/13/2011 05:00 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Jobs Expo Has Many Problems, Unclear Number Of Available Jobs

NEW YORK -- On a bright, cold winter Monday in Zuccotti Park, a couple dozen diehard Occupiers were milling about when two men in suits walked in with a folding table, a small entourage and six cardboard boxes labeled "Administrative/Clerical," "Arts and Entertainment," "Health care," "Medical," "Legal" and "Finance."

The men were brothers, John and Derek Tabacco, aged 43 and 41, respectively, and their plan was to hold an informal jobs expo. Their stated aim: to help unemployed Americans find work and hasten the end of the anti-banks movement by employing one protester at a time.

They were not warmly received.

While a handful of people did show up with resumes -- less than 10 in the first two hours, by The Huffington Post's estimation -- the "jobs expo" called Occupy A Desk appeared to be primarily a publicity stunt. The Tabacco brothers claimed on Monday that eight different businesses were represented at the event -- and that many more who weren't present were offering positions. However, at the peak of the action, only four businessmen appeared to be actively reviewing resumes; one from a company that is accused of "operating as a pyramid scheme."

Derek Tabacco, who counts himself among the so-called "53 percent," a conservative meme for taxpaying Americans, insisted that the event was not a protest or self-promotion. He called the Occupiers "dirty hippies," but said "we have a lot of the same views."

"We should all be working together, trying to stimulate the economy," he said, looking out at the gathering crowd of Occupiers.

The brothers first made their anti-Occupy Wall Street debut a few days after the park was cleared last month, when protesters attempted to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. While police barricaded the narrow streets around Wall Street, demanding identification from employees who needed to get to work, the Tabacco brothers marched down Broadway, wearing suits and holding matching florescent green signs: "Get a Job" and "Occupy A Desk!" The feedback they got that morning -- repeated shouts from protesters saying they couldn't find work -- inspired the day's events, Derek Tabacco explained on Monday.

After that, the brothers -- who both have a history with reality television (Derek was on "Millionaire Matchmaker," described as "a bigger-than-life sports fanatic with a lot to learn about the ladies"; John, on VH1's "My Coolest Years") -- were deemed the "Heroes of Wall Street" by BusinessInsider.com and the "faces of the anti-Occupy movement" by Mediaite.com. They have both been guests on Fox Business News to discuss their anti-Occupy Wall Street views.

The brothers' entourage on Monday included a painter, three musicians, a handful of businessmen in pinstripe suits and a camera crew. "There's a violinist playing," Derek said emphatically, when asked if the event was a counter-protest, and pointed a few feet away to where a violinist wearing a patterned, brown woolen coat was performing. The brothers invited her, along with a painter working on a piece of an American flag, and two musicians from the band Screaming Broccoli. "Did you ever hear a violinist at a job fair?" he asked.

According to a press release, the expo was to take place between noon and 4 p.m., when human resource representatives and small business owners would review resumes of people who dropped by and try to match them with one of about 50 job openings the Tabacco brothers said they were trying to help fill. The response from businesses, Derek Tabacco said, was very strong: Since sending out the release, the number of open jobs had shot up from 50 to 400, he said. He declined to go into detail about where most of these jobs were, or how exactly he would be able to help expo attendees get them -- "networking," he said.

But by 12:45 p.m., the number of available jobs or businesses represented in the park was nearly irrelevant. Forty-five minutes into the event, only one of the businessmen maintained his post at a table spread with informational packets -- the rest of Tabacco's crew was huddled in a group off to the side, while Derek Tabacco, dressed in a pin striped wool suit, stood in the middle of a ring of Occupiers who angrily chanted, "Whose park? Our park! Whose park? Our Park!"

"I share it with you, I played chess here my whole life," Tabacco shouted back.

A man darted forward and poured birdseed by the cardboard boxes intended for resumes, still mostly empty, and a nearby flock of pigeons flew over. "Who did that?" Tabacco shouted. Onlookers shrugged.

The one businessman who did maintain his post, chatting with anyone who walked by, was Al Peteroy, a senior consultant with Ambit Energy, a Texas-based energy company. Last May, the company was hit with a billion dollar lawsuit accusing it of federal racketeering, fraud and unfair business practices. The lawsuit describes Ambit as "operating as a pyramid scheme which makes false and misleading statements that constitute deceptive acts or practices." A lawyer for the company told The Huffington Post that the claims had "no basis in law or fact."

Although the jobs expo was growing more chaotic, Peteroy said he planned to stay put, looking for new recruits.

"I'm going to stay," he said, adding that several people had taken cards and fliers, but that no one had signed up yet. Peteroy, broad shouldered, hails from Staten Island, N.Y., where the Tabacco brothers also grew up. He was disappointed, he said, by the size of the crowd -- he was expecting more than 1,000 people.

"I'm presenting an opportunity to earn an income," he said. "But I don't think that people are actually looking for a job, they're looking for an argument."

According to a video on the company's website, working for Ambit is not free: marketing consultants must pay an enrollment fee of $429 and monthly payments of $24.95. The more people Peteroy recruits, or "sponsors," as marketing consultants, the more money he earns.

By 1 p.m., the boxes had accumulated a few resumes. But fliers distributed by Occupiers -- featuring the career highlights of John Tabacco -- outnumbered the seemingly-legitimate resumes. "Would you hire this man?" the top of the flier read.

In the event's press release, Tabacco is described as "a predominant expert in Securities Lending" and the founder and chief executive of Locatestock.com -- "one of the first electronic securities lending portal [sic] that has modernized and simplified the Securities Finance Industry," according to the company's site.

But as the protesters' fliers indicated, Tabacco worked as a broker in New York in the '90s and was barred from the securities industry after being sanctioned for misconduct in 1996. In the case file, investigators concluded, "We find that Respondent Tabacco's actions in this matter were completely outrageous and that his contradictory statements were utterly disgraceful."

Tabacco dismissed the flier as slanderous and added that, "Any time you engage in public events to bring some a positive message there's always going to be haters."

Henry James Ferry, an Occupier who runs a recently launched media outlet, The Other 99, approached the table where Michael Muscarello, the director of talent acquisitions at the staffing firm Intermedia Group, stood reviewing resumes.

"Do you know that 70 percent of the people protesting have jobs?" Ferry asked, citing a survey of Occupy Wall Street members conducted by Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, Ph.D, of the School of Public Affairs at New York's Baruch College. "Why is it that you think that people in Zuccotti Park should just go get a job?"

Muscarello, wearing a white scarf over his suit and sunglasses pushed back on his forehead, avoided the question. "If you're looking for a job, if it's in your interest to find one, you can find it," he told Ferry.

Ferry pointed to McDonald's day of hiring last April, when it announced plans to hire 50,000 workers and more than a million applied. "There's a job shortage out there," he said.

"I'm looking for a guy who can do this," Muscarello countered, holding up a sample resume of a Java developer. "You show me a guy who can do this and I can get him a job tomorrow."

According to the most recent release from the government, there were more than four unemployed people for every job in October, the 34th straight month with a ratio above 4-1.

Nearby, a 63-year-old woman named Monica Rows who said she had been unemployed since 2009, put her resume in the "Administrative/Clerical" resume box, and then, for good measure, the other five boxes as well. A friend told her about the expo, she said, and she was surprised to learn it was in Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy protests were held.

"I can do all of these fields, clerical, arts, medical," she said. "If I don't get a job, I'll be out on the streets."

Standing off to the side, an Occupier named Paul Spitzer said he had invited the brothers to sit down and talk things out, away from the chaos of the park. Derek Tabacco said he thought that was a good idea.

"Maybe we can sit down without yelling and find some common ground," Spitzer said. "We need these kinds of debates. But here in Zuccotti, there is a lot of angst and upset people and then a guy that looks like Frank Sinatra" -- he gestured at the brothers -- "wearing a suit comes down here and says that they should just get a job? The communication gap is just huge."

When the expo ended, the Tabacco brothers made their way over to Fox News, where they sat for an interview on "Your World w/ Cavuto."

Neil Cavuto agreed with Derek and John that the day had been positive -- except for what they characterized as the disruptive and ungrateful Occupiers themselves.

"It kind of shows that their argument is disingenuous," John told Cavuto. "They're [in Zuccotti] because they can't find a job, now that we've brought over 400 job opportunities to the park, not one occupier handed in a resume."

While many in the Occupy Wall Street movement would likely agree that a lack of jobs in the U.S. economy is a significant problem, those in the park on Monday seemed to disagree with the Tabacco brothers' basic premise. They were not in the park because they couldn't get a job, but because they wanted to protest the corrupt global financial system.

"There's a sarcasm at the heart of this thing," said Matt Sky, an Occupier standing by the resume boxes, holding a sign that read, "You Deserve Better: Occupy." "The movement isn't about people who are whining that they don't have a job, it's about fundamentally changing a broken system."

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