Office coworking space WeWork made headlines in June when it raised a massive $433 million round, but this time the press isn’t so flattering.
Over the past couple of months, the company, which owns and operates a network of office coworking locations in several U.S. cities and was recently valued at $10 billion, is facing allegations that it’s discriminated against employees for wanting to join a union. WeWork subcontracted office cleaning staff for its New York City locations from Commercial Building Maintenance Corp. and in July, notified them that their contracts would expire on August 23, according to The Gothamist. The new came a month after they began to organize to join a union to get higher pay and benefits.
According to a statement from WeWork, CBM terminated its contract with WeWork on June 25.
WeWork has since decided to hire its own cleaning staff, now part of what it calls its “community services team,” and will offer them hourly pay starting at $15 or $18, and benefits, according to a statement from the company. A spokesperson told Fortune that the new positions involve different responsibilities, which is why it has requirements like English proficiency.
However, it seems that WeWork is also looking to avoid having unionized workers. The Gothamist spoke to a couple of workers who were let go, and they reported being specifically asked about their stance on unions when they spoke with managers about getting one of the new jobs. They were also told that the new positions were specifically non-union jobs.
WeWork disputes this. “WeWork has interviewed or will interview every CBM employee who applies for one of our new jobs. We hired the best candidates, period. Any suggestion that engaging in union activity hurt applicants is patently false,” it said in a statement to Fortune.
Only 15 of these workers have been hired for the new jobs at WeWork, a spokesperson for SEIU 32BJ, the union working with them, told The Gothamist. More than 90% of them are still jobless since the layoffs.
WeWork, however, says that CBM didn’t let the company hire its workers until July 31, which is why it’s only hired a few so far.