Ahead of closure, Meta café workers protest layoffs Mar. 30

The following is from UNITE HERE Local 8:

SEATTLE (March 30, 2023) — Dozens of cooks, line servers and other café Flagship Facility Services workers who serve employees of Facebook parent Meta at the company’s Seattle buildings in South Lake Union will join a national day of action today by café workers affected by uncertainty, layoffs and planned wage cuts in Meta offices in Seattle, California and New York.

TAKE A STAND — All union members and community supporters are invited to join Meta workers at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 30 at 8th Ave. N. and Thomas Ave. and march to Denny Park at 3:45 p.m. Can’t be there? Sign this petition in support of Meta workers.

Days before a building closure at SLU by Meta, cooks and café workers will protest a cruel handling of the layoffs such that workers still are left in the dark as to whether they will have job, while those affected have been told that they will receive eight weeks of severance, only half of what the people they serve are receiving. Meanwhile, some workers who prepare and serve food at the remaining cafes are facing wage cuts.

“I support my daughter with my job at Meta, and I’ve been working in kitchens for 10 years,” said line cook Destinee Moliga. “The only way I can keep a position in the café is to accept a shift that does not allow me to take care of my daughter when she gets home from school, and now if I don’t accept this position my unemployment claim will be denied. The severance that the Meta engineers are receiving would give me peace of mind to be able to maintain my medical appointments and know that I can pay rent while looking for a new opportunity. We need to know what’s happening with our jobs, just asking for equal treatment with the people we serve every day.”

“We were told that as culinary workers we were part of what made Facebook great,” said Lead Cook Doug Lawson. “Now I am being asked to take a wage cut. That’s not something I can afford to do.”

Citing efforts that included a protest at the beginning of the month, line cook Mari Duncan said, “It feels degrading to me that none of my coworkers still have received notification about whether they will have jobs after the Westlake café closes at the end of the week” said café line cook Mari Duncan. “Our managers have told us the notice will come as an email. We’re all getting up each morning worrying about whether that email will come.”

Over the past decade, hundreds of cooks and café workers have become an integral part of our region’s tech campuses, as Instagram-worthy restaurants and grab-and-go markets became a staple amenity meant to recruit and retain tech engineers. In November 2022, Meta announced that it would lay off 13% of its workforce, including 700 tech engineers in the Seattle region. Meta engineers facing layoffs are receiving a severance package with at least 16 weeks of pay and health care extension. Food service workers affected by Meta’s consolidation are not being offered the same consideration.

Meta café workers in New York and California will be protesting at the same time on Thursday.

UNITE HERE Local 8 represents about 5,000 workers in the hospitality industries of Oregon & Washington State. Local 8 members work in hotels, restaurants, food service, and airport concessions. They include room cleaners, cooks, bartenders, bellmen, food and beverage servers, bussers, and dishwashers. Local 8′s parent union, UNITE HERE, represents hotel, food service, and gaming workers throughout the US and Canada. Learn more at UNITEHERE8.org.

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