Almost 100 Facebook janitors laid off as Silicon Valley service-worker cuts continue – MarketWatch


Nearly 100 Facebook janitors were laid off from the tech giant’s California offices Friday, two months after being 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 placed elsewhere, according to workers who spoke with MarketWatch as well as the union that represents them, SEIU United Service Workers West.

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

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 when the company closed its campuses during shelter-in-place lockdowns. Meta, along with other big Silicon Valley employers such as Alphabet Inc.

Apple Inc.
and Intel Corp.
touted their commitment to keeping their service workers employed at the time.

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

But now, as hybrid or remote work become a permanent plan for some companies — and as layoffs hit a range of 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 are bracing for job cuts, and service workers are getting laid off. Before the janitors were laid off, about 40 bus drivers had lost their jobs on the company’s campuses in the past several months, according to a Teamsters union official.

Meta spokesman Tracy Clayton denied that the company asked for job cuts in its janitorial ranks, and as recently as August said the company was not aware of any pending job cuts by 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 well-informed about all of this” and that “it’s not true that they don’t have control over this.”

Meta relies on vendors to directly employ janitors, security guards, shuttle drivers and more. The company switched janitorial providers in July, about a year after MarketWatch reported that its previous vendor, ABM Industries Inc.
had changed the amount of vacation that some janitors had been receiving, which Facebook representatives said they were unaware of 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 back then.

Asked for further comment, a Meta spokesman referred MarketWatch to SBM, which has not returned repeated requests since early August for comment.

Raquel Avalos, who had worked as a janitor at Meta for three years, said she was told she would be given a job at a Google
campus that would’ve paid her a little bit more than her hourly wage at Meta, which was $20.50.

“It was a dollar and something more,” 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 she was offered, and planned to also look for a part-time job to make ends meet. “I pay for a two-bedroom apartment by myself.”

Previously: As Silicon Valley looks to cut back, service workers fear they could be first to go

Like Avalos, another janitor at Meta who got laid off described the past couple of months of uncertainty about their jobs as stressful. Erick Miranda said that before he finally lost his job this week, he had to take some 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, shoulder and arms. He had to seek medical care.

“My nervous system is all tense due to all the worries this situation carries,” he said.

Now he plans to apply for unemployment benefits and look for a new job, he said. He has a wife, who’s also unemployed, and his 87-year-old father to support.

As for the janitors who kept their jobs at Meta, they’re worried about heavier workloads because of the 40% reduction in their workforce. One janitor who didn’t want 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 have five janitors assigned to them, there are now only two.

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