Getting a union is not easy, as the 50 workers who run the mail room for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, will attest. They work for a contractor called Canon Business Services. Back in the fall of 2021, they contacted Local 853 determined to gain union representation because, according to Business Rep Pablo Barrera, “the management team was unprofessional, disrespectful, and acting as bullies. Wages and benefits are generally poor and the company shows obvious favoritism for the paltry wage increases it does offer a few workers. And COVID safety protocols have been lax at best.”
It wasn’t long before 78% of the workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Instead of recognizing the union though, the company hired a union-busting law firm and pulled all kinds of shenanigans leading up to and including election day (December 15), when they posted armed guards at the entrance and had cameras monitor the voting area. By the time the votes were all counted, the election was tied, which usually means that the union lost.
However, the union filed objections with the labor board. In May, the Board did something rare: they issued a “Giselle Packing” ruling that asserts that when a union election is so tainted by the employer that it was not fairly held, the company must recognize and bargain with the union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative. This only happens when the Board views the actions of the employer as being egregious.
“That was huge,” says Barrera, “or it should have been. But the employer continues to refuse to comply with the NLRB remedy.” In mid-June, the workers unanimously signed a petition to Facebook/Meta stating, “We support the position of the NLRB and continue to authorize the union to serve as our bargaining representative with Canon Business.” A new NLRB hearing will be held in October.
“Canon Business Services is not acting responsibly. We’ll do what we need to do, but Facebook needs to take a stand to ensure that the workers on its campus are treated fairly and with respect,” Barrera adds. Local 853 joined with several other unions, including SEIU-USWW and UNITE-HERE, as well as Silicon Valley Rising, to hold an action at Facebook/Meta on August 18. “We need for them to issue a ‘responsible contractor policy,’ so that when workers do come together for a union, their wishes are respected. Facebook has leverage to make sure its contractors treat their workers right—they need to use it.”