Facebook’s commitment to contract service workers provides a lifeline to thousands of Black and Latinx families amid the pandemic

March 23, 2021

Federal Trade Commission and states Attorneys General inquiries into potential anti-competitive practices by Facebook as well as other tech corporations raise serious questions. Facebook has come to play a massive role in our tech-driven economy, our democracy, and in how families and communities connect across the globe. Unfortunately, some have also used it to sow racism and division, spread misinformation and hate, and coordinate extremist activities. Facebook, and the tech industry, rightly requires regulation.

At the same time, we think it is important to lift up how Facebook has partnered with labor and the community to improve the lives of tech service workers and address issues of affordable housing and homelessness.

When the pandemic shut down Silicon Valley tech offices in March 2020, Facebook was among the first to work with unions representing its service workers to ensure the more than 4,000 people who cook, clean, protect, and drive employees to its offices were still getting paid and remained on their healthcare. These women and men, a majority of whom are Latinx or Black, have still been receiving their regular paychecks despite being furloughed thanks to Facebook working with its vendors and the labor unions UNITE HERE Local 19, SEIU United Service Workers West, and Teamsters Local 853.

Beyond its commitments during the pandemic, Facebook has taken steps to improve its minimum wage and benefit standards for contract workers including at least $20 an hour in the Bay Area by 2020, in addition to requirements for healthcare, paid leave and mental health benefits.

The company has also been a leader in addressing its impact on rising rents faced by working families by committing $1 billion to address the housing crisis, including steps to produce and preserve affordable housing and protect renters. This includes a partnership to create a $150 million fund specifically focused on hard to finance extremely low-income housing in the Bay Area. And, for its own construction projects, Facebook has consistently used union labor.

As organizers, we understand the complexity and seriousness of the anti-trust issues being raised and how the concentration of power by a handful of massive tech corporations is deeply troubling for a just economy and vibrant democracy. We also believe it is important to spotlight where corporations within the sector, like Facebook, are setting an example by supporting thousands of working class people of color. One does not outweigh the other, but whether we are talking about Facebook or any other company, it is important to take a full and nuanced picture of its impact on our community and society.

Rome Aloise, Secretary-Treasurer
Teamsters Local 853

Jean Cohen, Executive Officer
South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Julie Lind, Executive Secretary-Treasurer
San Mateo County Central Labor Council

Enrique Fernandez, Business Manager
UNITE-HERE Local 19

Maria Noel Fernandez, Deputy Executive Director
Silicon Valley Rising Action
Working Partnerships USA

David Huerta, President
Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers West

Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director
Silicon Valley Rising Action
Working Partnerships USA

James Ruigomez, Business Manager
San Mateo Building and Construction Trades Council