The Real Deal New York

WeWork threatened to fire workers if they unionized: complaint

Workers demand higher pay, protest outside company’s HQ

June 19, 2015 01:15PM


From left: WeWork co-founders Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann (inset: 2009 illustration by Angelo Lopez)

UPDATED, June 19, 5:38 p.m.; WeWork’s co-founder Adam Neumann semi-seriously describes his company as a “capitalist kibbutz.” Apparently the emphasis is on capitalist.

The shared-office behemoth allegedly threatened to fire cleaners if they were to unionize, according to an unfair labor practice charge filed by a New York branch of the Service Employees International Union on behalf of 100 workers, BuzzFeed News reported. 

The cleaners staged a demonstration outside the company’s headquarters at 222 Broadway yesterday, demanding to get the same pay as their unionized peers. Via a spokesperson, WeWork denied the claims: “This allegation is false 1. We absolutely did not and would not threaten the employment of any one who works at one of our locations because of any union activity.  Moreover, since all of these individuals are employees of our contractor, we do not even have the right to terminate their employment. 2. We have not received any charge from the NLRB.”

The issue is a particularly sensitive one for WeWork as the company likes to present itself as working for the greater good by making work more enjoyable. “If you’re going to build a business that’s based on community, your business has to have community in it,” Neumann recently said.

Earlier this month, The Real Deal took an in-depth look at WeWork,  analyzing its numbers and its prospects for the future. [BuzzFeed]  — Konrad Putzier