A contractor worker for Facebook was fired in Austin, Texas this month after protesting against working conditions by posting Bruce Springsteen lyrics on the internal messaging board, said colleagues and family members familiar with the worker. Events such as these highlights how Facebook treats its contract workers.
This Thursday, a group of a dozen moderators working for the Accenture subsidiary in Austin published a new letter reviewed by The Washington Post demanding for better pay and a revision of their confidentiality agreements. The confidentiality agreement is preventing the contract workers from seeking clinical help for the traumatic effects of the job.
“Low pay, increased monitoring from managers, and strictly enforced production quotas have played a significant role in diminished morale in our workplace. People have been pushed to a point where they feel that their personhood, as well as their work, has been devalued because they are viewed as interchangeable parts in a machine,” says the letter.
Facebook might be under heat now, with several other media reports from news houses such as The Post and the Verge addressing the emotional toll and undue stress faced by these contract workers. Several such workers are starting to get public with their trauma and their workplace issues.
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The letter reviewed by the Washington Post addresses the treatment of nearly 15,000 contract workers alongside thousands of other outsourced workers employed at third party outsourcing companies across the world.
While Facebook referred the questions on the fired contract worker to Accenture, the outsourcing company declined to offer a comment. Facebook too, chose to remain silent about the letter. A spokesperson for Accenture said that their agreements do not prevent the employees from divulging any workplace issues with psychotherapists.
In May this year, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg announced that the company was planning on raising the wages of all contract workers in the Bay Area and other US contractors to $20 dollars and $18, respectively. The tech giant also promised to provide on-site counseling during night shifts as the workers complained about a lack of access to a counselor during night shifts.
The content moderators have ultimately asked the tech giant for a base pay raise to $19.50 per hour through the letter posted this Thursday. They also asked the company to re-evaluate the confidentiality agreement and end the quota system for a number of posts reviewed.