News & Commentary

November 7, 2022

Nicholas Anway

Nicholas Anway is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s news and commentary: Workers at a Philadelphia Home Depot store voted against forming a union on Saturday and Meta is planning large-scale layoffs this week.

Workers at a Northeast Philadelphia Home Depot store voted against unionizing on Saturday, WHYY News reported. By a vote of 165 to 51, employees rejected forming Home Depot Workers United. Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement retailer; the Atlanta-based company employs about 500,000 people in over 2,300 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The lead organizer of the unionization drive, Vince Quiles, filed a union election petition in September with 106 workers’ signatures, attempting to represent the Northeast Philadelphia store’s 266 employees across sales, merchandising, and operations. Since, organizers allege that Home Depot management has been union busting to intimidate employees and discourage organizing. “I knew when I filed this petition … [it] wouldn’t be an easy fight to have,” Quiles told WHYY News. “But you do these things because you believe them to be right.” Organizers filed a formal complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, which includes allegations that managers surveilled organizers, interrogated employees, suppressed conversations between workers, and perpetrating a “character assassination” to discredit Quiles. Still, organizers are optimistic. “I see it like this, they’re very beatable,” Quiles reflected. “Had we better prepared for that propaganda, for that intimidation, this would have gone differently.”

Meta is planning large-scale layoffs this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The layoffs are expected to affect many thousands of employees and an announcement is planned to come as soon as Wednesday,” people familiar with the matter told the Journal. The number of Meta employees expected to lose their jobs “could be the largest to date at a major technology corporation in a year,” although the planned reductions are predicted to be smaller as a percentage of Meta’s total workforce than last week’s layoffs at Twitter, which cut about half of the company’s staff. Meta has added more than 42,000 employees since 2020, and currently employs more than 87,000 people. But in a June company wide meeting, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees that, “[r]ealistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.” Meta’s stock has fallen more than 70% this year, reflecting investors’ doubts about the company’s “ballooning” investments in the creation of the metaverse. “Management’s road map & justification for this strategy continue to not resonate with investors,” said one financial analyst last month. The planned layoffs would be the first in the company’s 18-year history.

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