Facebook Cafeteria Workers ‘Like’ Union in Election Victory

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By Jacquie Lee

Contracted food service workers in Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters voted to unionize on July 21, a company spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg BNA July 24.

The cafeteria workers, employed by Flagship Facility Services, are pushing for higher wages and cheaper health care to help combat Silicon Valley’s rising rents, UNITE HERE said in a statement.

The new unit will include all 562 of the cafeteria workers at Facebook’s Menlo Park location. They hope to start the negotiating process soon, Meghan Cohorst from UNITE HERE said.

“We’re hopeful Facebook’s cafeteria workers will enjoy themselves some of the success of Facebook,” she said.

In 2015, average renters in Silicon Valley spent 38 percent of their monthly income on housing, according to the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies, a non-profit that analyzes data on densely packed metro areas. That’s 8 percent more than what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development advises renters should allocate to housing each month.

Union ‘Very Hopeful’ About Negotiations

Cohorst could not discuss details about other bargaining objectives because the union vote is so fresh, she said. But she hopes negotiations will be quick and easy based on the cooperation UNITE HERE has felt so far from both Facebook and Flagship, she said.

“Based on the communication we’ve had with the companies in the past we’re very hopeful that will be the case,” Cohorst said.

Flagship did not reply to requests for comment.

The average cafeteria worker at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus makes $18.81 an hour, Cohorst said. That number comes from a survey of 66 cafeteria workers UNITE HERE conducted between April and June.

Workers Already Get Parental, Sick Leave

Facebook initiated a $15 minimum wage policy in 2015 and started providing 15 days of paid time off for sickness, holidays, and vacation, according to the company’s website. If employees aren’t already provided with paid parental leave, Facebook also gives $4,000 to new parents to supplement child care costs or give new moms or dads the chance to take time off to spend with their child.

Under Flagship’s contract with Facebook, the cafeteria workers already get those benefits. Any wage increases or additional benefits would be the subject of collective bargaining, Cohorst said.

“Our vendor workers are valued members of our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. “We are committed to providing a safe, fair, work environment to everyone who helps Facebook bring the world closer together, including contractors. Our commitment does not change, regardless of union status.”

Flagship provides companies with workers in a variety of areas, including culinary jobs, building maintenance, and janitorial positions, its website says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacquie Lee at jlee1@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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