Nearly 100 Facebook janitors were fired from the tech giant’s California offices on Friday, two months after being told their jobs would be safe.
The number of job losses would actually be closer to 120, but according to workers who spoke to MarketWatch and the union that represents them, SEIU United Service Workers West, about 30 janitors are being relocated.
Concierges at META, the parent company of Meta Platforms Inc.,
Its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and the company’s other offices in the Bay Area were affected. According to a list of employees spotted by MarketWatch, approximately 193 janitors and other service workers were detained by SBM, the supplier that directly employs them.
The terminations come after the janitors and other service workers at Meta kept their jobs during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the company closed its campuses during shelter-in-place lockdowns. Meta, along with other major Silicon Valley employers such as Alphabet Inc. GOOG,
Apple Inc. AAPL,
and Intel Corp. INTC,
praised their commitment to keeping their service workers employed at the time.
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But with hybrid or telecommuting becoming a permanent plan for some companies — and layoffs in many industries — big tech companies are looking to cut costs. Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has warned of tough economic times ahead, and he’s not alone. At Meta, that means engineers brace for job losses and service workers are fired. Before the janitors were fired, about 40 bus drivers had lost their jobs on the company’s campuses in recent months, according to a Teamsters union official.
Meta spokesperson Tracy Clayton denied that the company had asked for job cuts in its janitors, and as recently as August, the company said it was not aware of any impending job cuts by its supplier partners.
But David Huerta, chairman of SEIU United Service Workers West, the union that represents the janitors, told MarketWatch that Meta is “very well aware of all this” and that “it’s not true that they have no control over this.”
Meta relies on suppliers to directly hire janitors, security guards, shuttle drivers and more. The company switched concierge services in July, about a year after MarketWatch reported that its previous supplier, ABM Industries Inc. ABM,
had changed the amount of vacation some janitors had received, which Facebook reps said they were unaware of at the time. SBM Management Services took over the concierge contract, and Huerta said both Meta and SBM “made commitments” that no one would be fired at the time.
Asked for further comment, a Meta spokesperson referred MarketWatch to SBM, which has not returned repeated requests for comment since early August.
Raquel Avalos, who had worked as a janitor at Meta for three years, said she was told she would get a job at Google GOOGL,
campus that would have paid her a little more than her hourly wage at Meta, which was $20.50.
“It was a dollar and then something more,” she said. “That was a win-win for me. I was excited.”
Then the single mother of four children was told that she would be unemployed after all.
“I can’t afford not to have a job,” Avalos said, adding that she was willing to take whatever was offered to her, and planned to also look for a part-time job to make ends meet. . “I’m only paying for a two-bedroom apartment.”
Earlier: As Silicon Valley tries to cut spending, service workers fear they’ll be the first to go
Like Avalos, another janitor at Meta who was fired described the past few months of insecurity about their jobs as stressful. Erick Miranda said that before he finally lost his job this week, he needed to take a few days off to deal with the physical and mental effects of worrying about keeping his job.
Miranda, who worked at Meta for four years, said he had a headache, as well as pain in his neck, back, shoulder and arms. He had to seek medical help.
“My nervous system is all tense with all the worry this situation brings,” he said.
Now he plans to apply for unemployment benefits and look for a new job, he said. He has a wife, who is also unemployed, and his 87-year-old father to support.
As for the janitors who have kept their jobs at Meta, they are concerned about a heavier workload due to the 40% reduction in their workforce. A janitor, who declined to be named, said she and others are already being asked to work night shifts and overtime. She also said that in certain buildings that used to be assigned five janitors, there are now only two.