Facebook cafeteria workers call out social media giant

Union demanding better wages, benefits as contract talks continue

Holding signs that read “One job should be enough,” cafeteria workers who serve meals for thousands of Facebook and Instagram employees picketed for higher wages and better healthcare coverage outside of the social media giant’s first San Francisco outpost Tuesday.

Facebook signed a lease for the 70-story building at 181 Fremont St. in 2017.The recently unionized cafeteria workers are employed there through the food service contractor Flagship Facility Services, and have been negotiating their first contracts since April.

On Tuesday, the protesting workers alleged that Flagship has failed to meet their demands for “middle class wages,” health benefits and an eight-hour work day. Dishwashers with the company make just $17 per hour in an area with a rising cost of living that has been notably accelerated by the tech industry, according to organizers with UNITE HERELocal 2, the union representing the workers.

“Workers here do not want to be treated like second class citizens,” said UNITE HERE President Anand Singh. “There’s a standard that’s been built here in San Francisco by hospitality workers that provides for living wages on the job, for healthcare for workers and their families, for pensions and job security, and for basic things like an eight-hour work day.”

Late last year, Marriott hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 2 embarked on a 61-day strike amid contract negotiations. Singh said that the tech cafeteria workers should enjoy the same benefits as other hospitality workers across The City.

“In 2019 in San Francisco, at a cafeteria that services Facebook employees, we are still fighting over whether or not there should be an eight-hour work day,” Singh said. “In the context of the housing crisis and the blame that’s laid at tech’s feet a lot of the time, the fact that we are having this dispute is remarkable.”

Wearing a bright blue “Facebook” T-shirt, line cook Delfina Ramirez said that she also drives for Uber and has a catering gig to support herself and her daughter in San Francisco.

“It’s super sad because I don’t have too much time with my daughter,” said Ramirez. “We just want Facebook to support us because we work for this company and they have a lot of money. We give a good service in the kitchen and I think they can do something for us.”

A request for comment to Facebook was not returned by press time.

In an email to the San Francisco Examiner, Flagship Senior Vice President of Human Resources Marion Terrell said that the company “is committed to ensuring a safe and fair working environment for all our employees, as well as having a positive and proactive relationship with our staff and union partners.”

Terrell said that Flagship has “offered our employees working at Facebook’s San Francisco offices a compensation and benefits package in line with FlagShip employees in Menlo Park, Seattle, New York City, and Fremont.”

“Flagship has long-standing relationships with many union partners around the country, and we willingly partner with stakeholders to advance the values of a positive working environment for our staff. We look forward to continuing dialogue with all involved,” Terrell said.

On Tuesday, Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders supported the tech cafeteria workers’ action on Twitter.

“I stand with the cafeteria workers at Facebook who are picketing today. Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth of $75 billion and Facebook made $22 billion in profits last year. They must pay workers a living wage,” Sanders said in a tweet.


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