Janitorial staff go on strike after mass layoffs, at Meta's offices in Burlingame on Oct. 7, 2022. (Aryk Copley/KQED)
Updated Tuesday, 11 a.m.
Janitors who clean Meta’s offices reached an agreement with the contracting firm that hires them, ending a strike that started last week in response to mass layoffs.
"From the negotiations that happened over the weekend, we were able to reduce the amount of layoffs and increase sustainability of the workforce that is still there," said Sebastian Silva, communications coordinator for Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West, the union representing many janitors in Silicon Valley.
The agreement that was reached on Sunday night with SBM Management, the contractor that handles Meta’s janitorial services, includes severance pay and health care for impacted workers, Silva said.
"We also wanted to make sure the workload for the remaining workers is sustainable," he added.
Workers went on strike last week after more than 120 janitors were laid off by SBM.
The downsizing effort resulted in increased and excessive workloads for remaining employees, and fewer unionized workers, SEIU-USWW said in a statement.
"We thank Meta for listening to workers' demands for safer working conditions and covering wages and benefits for workers during the pandemic," David Huerta, president of SEIU-USWW, said in a statement. "We also thank them for intervening and working towards a resolution with the site contractor, SBM. As employers, like Meta and SBM look ahead, it is critical they remember that USWW members' work has always been — and will continue to be — essential and that workers deserve jobs with dignity."
“For us it’s a victory when you can tell workers that they can go back to their jobs, and that's a big win for us,” said Olga Miranda, president of SEIU Local 87.
Miranda also said that despite the win at Meta, similar efforts to reduce janitorial staff are still happening at other tech companies, where her union is working to organize more workers.
"We will stand up to each and every form of corporate harassment and continue to intensify the fight for safe working conditions, as well as dignity and respect for Meta’s cleaning workers,” Huerta told striking workers at a rally on Friday outside Meta’s Burlingame offices.
The crowd of largely Latinx workers shouted labor chants like, "Arriba la union, abajo la explotación" (which in English means, "Up with the union, down with exploitation") and "SBM, escucha, estamos en la lucha" ("SBM, listen, we are in the fight").
Janitor Maria Garcia said her duties more than doubled after SBM began laying off employees, and as a single mother she struggles to be apart from her children for so long. Garcia said she also misses her co-workers who were let go.
"I keep my fingers crossed to see my brothers and sisters come back. I want that," said Garcia. "I don’t ask for money. I want to see my people come back. And more respect. I want respect because when you have respect and love, everything goes more smooth."
Meta pointed out in a statement that they worked to ensure workers were paid throughout the pandemic, even when offices were shut down. While workers don’t contest that, they argue the recent layoffs with no advance warning fly in the face of Meta’s rhetoric during that time, when the Facebook parent company regarded its janitorial staff as essential and valued workers.
KQED's Juan Carlos Lara and Spencer Whitney contributed reporting to this story.
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