Nearly 100 Facebook janitors laid off as Silicon Valley service worker cuts continue

Nearly 100 Facebook cleaners 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 have been reassigned, according to workers who spoke to MarketWatch as well as the union that represents them, SEIU United Service Workers West.

Gatekeepers at Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc
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headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and the company’s other Bay Area offices were affected. According to a list of workers seen by MarketWatch, about 193 janitors and other service workers have been retained by SBM, the supplier that employs them directly.

The layoffs come after 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 lockdown. Meta, along with other major Silicon Valley employers such as Alphabet Inc.
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Apple Inc.
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and Intel Corp.
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emphasized their commitment to retain service workers employed at the time.

From 2020: How long will Silicon Valley workers who can’t work from home keep getting paid?

But now that hybrid or remote work has become a permanent fixture for some companies — and as layoffs hit a number of industries — big tech companies are scrambling to cut costs. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned of difficult economic times ahead, and he is not alone. At Meta, that means engineers are bracing for job cuts and service workers are being cut. Before the janitors were laid off, about 40 bus drivers had lost their jobs at the company’s campuses in the past few months, according to a Teamsters union official.

Meta spokeswoman Tracy Clayton denied the company had requested job cuts in its sanitation ranks, and as recently as August said the company was not aware of any pending job cuts from its supplier partners.

But David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West, the union that represents the janitors, told MarketWatch that Meta is “very well informed about all of this” and that “it’s not true that they have no control over it. “

Meta relies on vendors to directly hire doormen, security guards, shuttle drivers, and more. The company switched sanitation providers in July, about a year later MarketWatch reported that its previous supplier, ABM Industries Inc.
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changed the amount of vacation some janitors were getting, which Facebook officials said they weren’t aware of at the time. SBM Management Services took over the janitorial contract, and Huerta said both Meta and SBM have “committed” that no one will be made redundant then.

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 worked as a janitor at Meta for three years, said she was told she would get a job at Google
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campus that would pay her slightly more than her hourly wage at Meta, which was $20.50.

“It was a dollar and more,” she said. “It was a win-win for me. I was excited.”

The single mother of four was then told she would still be out of a job.

“I can’t afford not to have a job,” Avalos said, adding that she’s open to whatever is offered and plans to look for part-time work to make ends meet. “I pay for a two-bedroom apartment myself.”

Previously: As Silicon Valley looks to downsize, service workers fear they could be the first to disappear

Like Avalos, another janitor at Meta who was laid off described the past few months of uncertainty about his job as stressful. Eric Miranda said that before he finally lost his job this week, he had to take a few days off to deal with the physical and mental effects of being so worried about keeping his job.

Miranda, who has worked at Meta for four years, said he has headaches as well as neck, back, shoulder and arm pain. He had to seek medical help.

“My nervous system is strained because of all the worries this situation brings,” he said.

He now 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 kept their jobs at Meta, they are worried about the increased workload due to the 40% reduction in their workforce. One janitor, who did not want to be named, said she and others have already been asked to work night shifts and overtime. She also said that some buildings that used to have five doormen now have only two.

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