WED, Jan. 25 — On a cold, blustery afternoon marked by intermittent snow flurries, fired cleaning staff of Twitter rallied on Wednesday outside the company’s W. 17th St. headquarters to protest their former employer.
Janitors from both Twitter’s New York and San Francisco offices were present. “Who got the power? The crowd shouted. We got the power!”
Twitter has made headlines for a series of firings and re-hirings since Tesla CEO Elon Musk completed his purchase of the social media platform in October for $44 billion. Musk is reported to have laid off around half of Twitter’s 7,500-person staff. On Nov. 16, he warned employees who wouldn’t be fired that they would have to be “extremely hardcore” and ready to work “long hours at high intensity.”
“When I think about Twitter, I think about billionaires. And one in particular, ” said John Santos, Secretary Treasurer of 32BJ, the union that represents the New York City janitors. “They want to cut costs on the backs of the most vulnerable workers.”
Fired janitors spoke to the crowd. Marina Gashi explained her experience working at Twitter through the pandemic only to be dismissed with nothing more than a text message. Holding back tears, she explained that her job provided for her four children and 91-year-old father.
“I will be thousands of dollars in debt because of my medication bills,” she said.
Laureta Gjoni, a single mom with two children, told The Indypendent that she joined Twitter in 2015 as a cleaner when the office opened. She was fired days before Christmas. “We were working on a Monday night, the 19th, when we got the message, ‘Don’t come into work.’ ” The group finished cleaning and left. She’s been unemployed since.
Gjoni said that she helped clean during the construction of the building. “I know the whole building, top to bottom. I was pregnant with my first baby, and I cleaned it. No one can clean it better than us.”
Since the cleaners were fired, there have been reports of Twitter employees having to bring their own toilet paper to work. And they may have to continue to be “hardcore” about that.
Under New York City law, most building service workers can’t be replaced in their buildings without cause. A union spokesperson told The Indy that 32BJ has yet to verify that any cleaning is taking place within the building. But he added, “if we get proof of that, legal action could be taken.”