On May 1, the International Workers’ Day, dozens of local May Day demonstrations will take place in the US to protest President Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-worker policies.
Facebook on April 18 notified its employees that it will not punish any employee who misses work to participate in a May Day demonstration.
The company also said that it will take steps to protect service workers employed by Facebook subcontractors should they choose to join the May Day demonstrations. These workers provide food, janitorial, security, and other services on Facebook campuses.
“We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions,” reads the notice to Facebook employees.
The notification came after Silicon Valley Rising, a coalition of 40 labor, faith leaders, and community based organizations, sent letters to the 20 largest tech companies in Silicon Valley asking them to “honor the wishes of any workers who want to participate in (May Day) actions” by “not disciplin(ing) those workers who participate” and “(holding) their food service, janitorial, security, and other subcontractors to the same standard.”
Subcontractor workers in the tech industry are largely immigrants, people of color, and women.
Four days before Facebook made its announcement, delegations from immigrant rights, tech equity, and labor groups visited Google campuses across the country to deliver a similar letter.
Many of Google’s service workers have been directly affected by the administration’s anti-immigrant policies, and some want to join the May Day demonstrations to protest these policies.
“Since Trump was elected, it has felt like there is a non-stop attack on immigrants,” said Braulia Delgado, a Google janitor for 13 years to BuzzFeed News. “As an immigrant worker I am staying home from work on May 1st and encouraging other workers to stay home and march with us because we contribute a lot to this industry and this country and we belong here. Google and other tech companies have already taken a stand against the Trump administration’s policies, now it’s time for them to stand with us.”
But there is fear that some employers may retaliate if these workers do join the demonstrations.
The delegation wanted assurances from Google that its service workers would receive the same protections that its tech workers have received.
In January, thousands of Google tech workers walked off the job to protest President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
In March, Google employees took off work to join A Day Without Women demonstrations.
In both instances, Google supported its employees right to protest.
“Google and its employees have stood up to intolerance, as evidenced by their strong stance against the first travel ban,” said Derecka Mehrens, co-founder of Silicon Valley Rising. “Now is the time for Google to continue to be an industry leader by ensuring that all workers in its offices — both direct and subcontracted employees — have the opportunity to participate in these historic (May Day) actions without fear of retaliation.”
Facebook’s decision to stand with its workers puts more pressure on Google to take a public stand supporting its service workers as well as its tech workers should they decided to join the May Day demonstrations against President Trump’s anti-immigration policies.
But as of this writing, Google has not done so.
Silicon Valley Rising is asking people to support tech workers and tech service workers right to join the resistance by signing a petition addressed to Google.