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

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

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Nearly 100 Facebook cleaners were fired from the tech giant’s California offices on Friday, two months after they were told their jobs were safe.

The job cuts were actually supposed to be closer to 120, but about 30 janitors will be relocated, according to workers who spoke with MarketWatch and the union that represents them, SEIU United Service Workers West.

Security guards at Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms Inc
META,
-2.18%
The headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and the company’s other offices in the Bay Area were affected. According to an employee list seen by MarketWatch, about 193 janitors and other service workers are directly employed by SBM.

The layoffs come after Meta’s janitors and other service workers kept their jobs through the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the company closed its campus during the shelters. Meta, along with other large Silicon Valley employers such as Alphabet Inc.
GOOG,
-0.26%

GOOGLE,
-0.11%,
Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-1.10%
and Intel Corp.
INTC,
+1.39%,
touted their commitment to keeping their service workers employed.

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

But now that hybrid or remote work is becoming a permanent plan for some companies—and layoffs are hitting many industries—Big Tech is looking to cut costs. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned of tough financial times ahead, and he’s not alone. In Meta, this means that engineers are preparing to be laid off and maintenance workers are being laid off. According to a Teamsters union official, about 40 bus drivers had lost their jobs at the company’s campuses before the janitors were fired.

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

But David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West, the union that represents janitors, told MarketWatch that Meta is “very well informed about all of this” and that “it’s not true that they don’t control this.”

Meta relies on vendors directly hiring 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,
-2.53%,
had changed the number of vacation days some janitors get, which 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 “committed” that no one would be laid off then.

Asked for further comments, Meta’s spokesperson referred MarketWatch to SBM, which has not made repeated comments since the beginning of August.

Raquel Avalos, who worked as a janitor at Meta for three years, said she was told she would get a job at Google.
GOOGLE,
-0.11%
GOOG,
-0.26%
on campus, which would have paid him slightly more than his hourly wage at Meta, which was $20.50.

“It was a dollar and something else,” he said. “It was a win-win for me. I was excited.”

Then the single mother of four was told she would eventually lose her job.

“I can’t afford not to work,” Avalos said, adding that he was willing to take whatever was offered to him and also planned to look for part-time work to make ends meet. “I’ll pay for the two-bedroom apartment myself.”

Earlier: As Silicon Valley moves to cut layoffs, maintenance workers fear they could be the first to leave

Like Avalos, another Meta janitor who was fired, described the last couple of months of uncertainty in his job as stressful. Erick 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 she suffers from headaches and pain in her neck, back, shoulders and arms. He had to seek medical attention.

“My nerves are on edge with all the worry this situation has caused,” he said.

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

The janitors who kept their jobs at Metalla are worried about heavier workloads because their workforce was reduced by 40%. One janitor, who did not want to be named, said he and others are already being asked to work night shifts and overtime. He also said that some buildings that used to have five janitors now have only two.

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