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'It's a nightmare': New York Twitter janitors protest sudden layoffs | twitter

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Laureta, a single mother and caretaker for years at Twitter’s New York offices, would like Elon Musk, one of the richest people in the world and the new owner of the social media giant, to know how he ruined her Christmas.

Like other Twitter janitors — and many other employees at the troubled company, which has laid off thousands of employees — she said she was never given any explanation for her sudden dismissal.

“I was so happy working for Twitter. I was able to pay my bills, get babysitters for my kids. Now, it’s a nightmare for me. I don’t know how I’m going to do it and I don’t even know what’s going to happen”, said Laureta, who didn’t want to divulge her last name for fear of future labor consequences. “There was no explanation. We worked on Monday the 19th and that night we got the message. It was shocking before Christmas. We didn’t have a good holiday. No merry christmas, no happy new year, we were thinking about our jobs and whether we would come back.

She described having to try to explain to her six-year-old son what happened and trying to allay his worries about having food now that she’s been laid off. She has no income and will lose the health insurance for herself and her children that she was counting on through her job at the end of this month.

“I want to get back to work and I want to know why Elon Musk is getting rid of us,” he added. “It is not right that Elon Musk got rid of me and all my co-workers.”

She is one of 12 janitors at Twitter’s 245-249 West 17th St, New York location who are protesting the social media company’s sudden decision to fire all janitors, who were employees of contractor Flagship Services, the latest layoffs in Twitter since Musk took over the company on October 27, 2022.

On January 10, the workers with their union, 32BJ SEIU, protested outside Twitter’s New York offices to demand an explanation and the return of their jobs.

Workers received a notice from Twitter on the night of December 19 that their contract with their employer and their jobs were terminated, effective immediately. They say that in previous cases where a contractor was changed, Twitter has retained the same employees that have worked at Twitter since 2015.

Merita, another janitor who has worked at Twitter’s New York offices since they opened in 2015, was also critical of the layoffs, especially the impact of the loss of health insurance, which she relies on for stomach meds she needs regularly.

“They told us at work at the last minute. We didn’t know anything. It was a shock for us. We left the building crying because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Merita. “It’s very difficult because we live paycheck to paycheck to pay the bills. We are very afraid of losing the health plan. I take medicine. We need a health plan, that’s why we need to fight to get our jobs back, to have the union, health, everything”.

In early December, Twitter suddenly fired janitors at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said he is investigating whether Twitter violated the law with the sudden layoffs due to laws that require employers to retain workers for at least 90 days during a transition between hires.

Twitter has laid off approximately half of its employees since the Musk takeover, which has sparked numerous lawsuits or arbitration claims.

The termination notice provided to caretakers provided no explanation for the sudden termination of their contract with Flagship Services or information on how these workers would be replaced.

“Twitter’s decision to cancel the cleaning contract for its New York office has changed the lives of these dedicated cleaners, many of whom have worked there since Twitter moved seven years ago. New York’s essential cleaners have done too much for this city to be treated like this,” Denis Johnston, executive vice president of 32BJ SEIU and director of the commercial division, said in a statement about the job cuts.

“They put their lives on the line to keep workers and the public safe during the pandemic and are essential to the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery. These union members and their families are now facing extreme hardship because of the loss of their good jobs with quality health insurance.”

Twitter and Flagship Services Inc did not immediately respond to requests for comment.