Dining Workers Stage Walkout At Meta’s Cambridge Offices

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By Vanessa Bartlett and Oscar Strzalka

Workers and community supporters picket outside of META’s Cambridge offices.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – About 30 cafeteria workers at Meta’s Cambridge offices staged a walkout on Friday, escalating their ongoing fight for a fair contract. The food service workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 26, have been working without a contract since Meta replaced their subcontractor with Yarzin Sella in December. Workers walked out to demand that Yarzin Sella adopt the contract that workers had with their previous employer, Flagship Facility Services. 

Last December, Yarzin Sella took over dining operations at the Cambridge Meta office, and refused to acknowledge the contract that workers had negotiated with their previous employer. Their contract expired on December 31, 2023, and workers have been demanding recognition from Yarzin Sella since. 

Unite Here Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo said that dining workers “down the street” at Google, also represented by Local 26, make substantially more than the dining workers at Meta, despite the fact that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the fifth-richest person in the world.

“So we’re here today to demand Yarzin Sella, the contractor, and Meta, do the right thing, to recognize the contract that these folks have and bargain a new contract that meets the standards of Google,” Aramayo said. 

Rank-and-file dining worker Maria Pineda said that she has experienced the precarity of working in non-union workplaces. 

“We worked hard in a lot of different jobs in the 20 years that we’ve been in the U.S., in a chicken factory and also as cleaners at Flagship before we started working as dishwashers here. In most of that time, we didn’t have respect from our bosses or benefits unless they just wanted to give it to us,” said Pineda. Having a union contract meant no longer having to rely on a benevolent boss to receive fair compensation for her labor.

“When Yarzin Sella came in, they were putting in danger the benefits, job protections, and wages that we won when we got the union last year,” said Pineda. 

UAW International President Shawn Fain addresses the UNITE HERE picket.

Shawn Fain, the President of UAW, was also present at the picket line. 

“We hear about cafeteria workers here – they’re not asking to be millionaires, none of us are asking to be millionaires. We just want a fair share of the fruits of our labor,” Fain said during his speech. 

The dining workers were joined by DSA members and union members from Harvard, MIT, and other union siblings in the Greater Boston area, making up a crowd of roughly a hundred picketers. 

Fain addressed the cross-union working class solidarity that was evident at Friday’s picket, where Unite Here members were joined on the picket line by many other unions and community groups. 

“This is how we win. We stand together – it doesn’t matter what industry you’re from, what union you’re from, or even if you’re union. Our fight is the same,” Fain said. 

Vanessa Bartlett is a staff organizer for UAW, and a member of Boston DSA. She has a background in print and radio journalism, but please don’t hold that against her.

Oscar Strzalka is a Boston native, former union staffer, and longtime labor advocate in the Boston area.

Photo Credit: Terry A./ Working Mass

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