Nearly 100 Facebook janitors were laid off from the tech giant’s California offices on Friday, two months after they were told their jobs would be safe.
The number of job cuts was actually supposed to be closer to 120, but about 30 janitors are being relocated, according to workers who spoke to MarketWatch as well as the union that represents them, SEIU United Service Workers West.
Gatekeepers at META’s Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.,
headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and the company’s other offices in the Bay Area were affected. According to a worker roster seen by MarketWatch, SBM retained about 193 boxers and other service workers, the vendor that employs them directly.
The terminations come after the janitors and other service workers at Meta kept their jobs through the first two-plus years of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the company closed its campuses during a shelter-in-place lockdown. Meta, along with other major Silicon Valley employers such as Alphabet Inc. GOOG,
Apple Inc. AAPL,
and Intel Corp. INTC,
they stated their commitment to keep their service workers employed at the time.
From 2020: How long will Silicon Valley employees who can’t work from home still get paid?
But now, as hybrid or remote work becomes a permanent plan for some companies – and as layoffs hit a range of industries – Big Tech companies are trying to cut costs. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned of tough economic times ahead, and he’s not alone. At Meta, that means engineers are bracing for job cuts, and service workers are quitting. Before the janitors were laid off, about 40 bus drivers had lost their jobs at the company’s campuses in the past several months, according to a Teamsters union official.
Meta spokeswoman Tracy Clayton denied the company had requested job cuts in its janitorial ranks, and as of August said the company was not aware of any pending job cuts at its vendor partners.
But David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West, the union that represents the janitors, told MarketWatch that Meta is “very aware of all this” and “it’s not true that they have no control over this. “
Meta relies on vendors to directly hire janitors, security guards, shuttle drivers and more. The company switched janitorial suppliers in July, about a year after MarketWatch reported that its previous vendor, ABM Industries Inc. ABM,
that changed the amount of leave some janitors were getting, something Facebook representatives said they didn’t know about at the time. SBM Management Services took over the janitorial contract, and Huerta said both Meta and SBM made “commitments” that no one would be laid off at that time.
Asked for further comment, a Meta MarketWatch spokesperson referred SBM, which did not return repeated requests since early August for comment.
Raquel Avalos, who worked as a janitor at Meta for three years, said she was told she would be offered a job at Google GOOGL,
campus she paid slightly more than her hourly wage at Meta, which was $20.50.
“It was a dollar and something else,” she said. “That was a win-win for me. I was excited.”
Then the single mother of four was told she would be out of a job after all.
“I can’t afford not to have a job,” Avalos said, adding that she was ready to take whatever was offered, and that she planned to look for a part-time job to make ends meet . “I pay for a two-bedroom flat by myself.”
Previously: As Silicon Valley tries to cut back, service workers fear they could be first
Like Avalos, another doorman at Meta who resigned described the uncertainty surrounding their jobs as stressful in the past few months. Erick Miranda, before finally losing his job this week, said he had to take several days off to deal with the physical and mental effects of being so worried about whether he would keep his job.
Miranda, who worked at Meta for four years, said he had headaches, as well as pain in his neck, back, shoulders and arms. He had to seek medical attention.
“My whole nervous system is on edge because of all the anxiety surrounding the situation,” 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 worried about heavier workloads due to the 40% reduction in their workforce. One janitor, who did not want to be named, said she and others are already being asked to work night shifts and overtime. She also said that there are now only two in some buildings that used to have five boxers assigned to them.