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Facebook wants to narrow the inequality gap between its technical and non-technical workers

By Nathaniel Mott , written on May 13, 2015

From The News Desk

Facebook is advocating for higher wages, paid time off, and other benefits for many of the non-technical workers it hires through independent contractors.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook wants these workers to have a minimum wage of $15, to have at least 15 days of paid time off, and to receive a $4,000 bonus if they aren't offered paid parental leave after having a child.

The changes would affect Facebook's janitorial staff, security guards, and food-service workers. Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer, told the Journal that Facebook will bear the costs of implementing all these changes.

This news follows increasing unrest about how tech companies, which are known for offering many of their employees ridiculous benefits and high pay, treat the workers who don't write a line of code but still help the business run.

Google's security guards are stuck with low wages and unpredictable shifts unless they survive "draconic disciplinary measures." Apple's security guards have made similar complaints. Amazon's warehouse workers are frisked, have their pay docked, and for a while were forced to sign non-compete agreements.

Facebook also drew criticism for the treatment of shuttle drivers who ferry the company's technical workers from their homes in the San Francisco Bay Area to the Facebook campus. Those concerns were addressed when the drivers joined a Teamsters union and signed a new contract with Facebook and its contractor.

Teamsters' international vice president Rome Aloise told the Journal that Facebook has "led the way" in terms of improving working conditions for its non-technical workers. The hope is that other companies will do the same.

Yet the Journal notes that these benefits pale in comparison to those offered to the company's technical workers, who receive better pay, more vacation time, and $4,000 in "baby cash" on top of their paid parental leave. The gap might be shrinking, but it's still more like the Grand Canyon than an itty-bitty schism.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]