After weeks of striking by disgruntled janitors, shared-office company WeWork has now changed track and will hire service workers directly, with higher wages and better perks.
Service workers employed by WeWork’s contractor Commercial Business Management (CBM), along with union activists, began picketing the shared-office company’s headquarters at 222 Broadway in June, calling for a hike in pay from what they claim was around $10 an hour, to the union rate of around $23. The protests, which were widely publicized in outlets such as Buzzfeed and Gothamist, threatened to tarnish WeWork’s self-declared image as a do-good company intent on building a more collaborative work culture.
In a blog post published last night, WeWork’s COO Artie Minson announced that the firm is no longer looking to work with a contractor, and is instead hiring 100 new employees to take over janitorial and building management duties. CBM terminated its contract with WeWork at the end of June. Minson, who joined WeWork in June after quitting his job as CFO of Time Warner Cable, added that the firm will be interviewing all CBM employees for the new positions.
WeWork created two types of positions, and will pay between $15 and $18 per hour. Workers, who will be either “Community Service Associates” or “Community Service Leads,” will also receive bonuses, healthcare benefits, and equity stakes in the company, according to the post.
Local service workers’ union 32BJ SEIU criticized WeWork’s requirement that Community Service Associates have the “ability to communicate in English,” arguing some of CBM’s immigrant workers might not meet it.