Twitter’s cleaning staff fight back after being ‘thrown out like the trash’

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OOn December 19, two hours after quitting her job at Twitter’s New York City office, Lucy Calderon received a text message saying she would no longer be working there, effective immediately.

The single mom from The Bronx and a dozen of her fellow janitor workers lost their jobs days before Christmas after Twitter abruptly canceled a contract with their employer, joining what workers are calling the “other” wave of tech layoffs that have hit tens of thousands of workers across the country. affects the United States. last months.

Elon Musk’s massive layoffs during his chaotic tenure at the platform have reached cleaning staff at his company’s San Francisco and New York offices, leaving lower-paid workers scrambling in cities with skyrocketing costs of living.

The workers could lose their union-provided health insurance – which the workers and their families relied on for their medication and medical care – if no action is taken by the end of January.

“It was shocking,” said Ms Calderon TUSEN. “I had just left work – what happened in two hours?”

Flagship Facility Services served as a cleaning service for Twitter’s office in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. A notice of termination from Twitter to the company was forwarded to employees without any explanation as to why the contract was terminated, according to a post reviewed by TUSEN.

Along with a crowd of union leaders and supporters, laid-off employees gathered in the rain outside Twitter’s West 17th Street office on Jan. 25 to demand that the company reinstate their jobs.

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“It’s been a nightmare,” says Laureta Gjoni, a single mom with a six-year-old and a one-year-old. She’s been cleaning the building for eight years, as long as Twitter is in the building.

“We take care of these buildings more than our homes,” she said TUSEN. “These jobs are our life, for our family, for our children. The insurance of the union, that is also our life.”

Yoeni Bylorenzo, a 29-year-old single father with a three-year-old daughter, said the workers were considered “essential” at the start of the pandemic but are now being “thrown out like garbage”.

“Twitter needs to remember the things we went through with the pandemic. We still came, every day,” he shared TUSEN. “Thank God I have some savings, but it really won’t last that long. Unemployment [payments] don’t give much.”

In brief remarks to the crowd, New York City Councilman Erik Bottcher condemned the layoffs as a “terrible, indefensible move by Twitter against these workers who deserve to keep their jobs.”

Service Employees International Union 32BJ, representing the workers, is seeking to determine whether Twitter’s actions violate the Displaced Building Service Workers Protection Act.

The law was first enacted in 2002 to protect workers who are outsourced to an outside contractor by building owners or managers. When a contractor takes over the work of another in the same building, those employees must be rehired by the new contractor and cannot be fired without cause under the law.

Workers can then sue the building owners to get their jobs back and receive back wages and damages.

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That says a spokesman for the union TUSEN the union is “still trying to figure out exactly what’s going on in the building” to determine whether Twitter hired cleaning staff after firing employees, which would be against the law.

“Cleaning in the building is a violation of the Construction Workers Protection Act. But we have not yet been able to verify anything,” the union said in a statement TUSEN.

SEIU’s New York City chapter represents more than 20,000 commercial office cleaners in the city.

The union’s Local 87 chapter in San Francisco — where 20 cleaning workers from the company’s headquarters were abruptly fired last month — represents 5,000 janitors in the city.

Those layoffs may also violate city law that states that new cleaning service agreements must include retaining existing employees after switching contractors.

Janitors also reported that some conference rooms in the San Francisco office had been converted into makeshift bedrooms or children’s rooms, prompting investigations by the city’s Department of Building Inspection and the city’s attorney’s office.

TUSEN has solicited comment from the offices of the New York Attorney General and the New York City Legal Department.

TUSEN also solicited comment from Twitter, which has largely shut down its communications department.

After Mr. Musk took over the influential platform in October, he fired its board of directors and top executives and began laying off 3,700 employees, cutting the company’s workforce by about half.

On Dec. 19, Twitter cut off cleaning workers’ ID access after the company notified the New York cleaning workers’ employer that their contracts would be terminated immediately, Ms. Calderon said. TUSEN.

Confused and terrified workers called her looking for answers, going on vacation with no income and bracing for the loss of their employer-affiliated health insurance for themselves and their families.

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“Those are the things that are in my head every day – how are they going to do that? I don’t even know how I’m going to do it. How are they going to do it?” Mrs. Calderon told TUSEN in a telephone interview. “I’m in the same corner as them and I have to be there for them.”

“Twitter’s decision to cancel the cleaning contract…has turned the lives of these dedicated cleaners upside down, many of whom have worked at this site since Twitter moved in seven years ago,” said a statement from union vice-chairman Denis Johnston. at TUSEN.

“They are risking their lives to keep workers and the public safe during the pandemic and are vital to the city’s economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic,” he added. “These union members and their families are now facing extreme hardship due to the loss of their high-paying jobs with quality health insurance.”

As the end of January approaches, Ms. Calderon and other laid-off employees said TUSEN that they intend to continue fighting with the union to get their jobs back.

“It was very shocking — no reason, no notice, nothing,” she said. “I don’t think we deserve that.”

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