Facebook is raising the minimum wage for some of its U.S. contract workers, with those in the Bay Area seeing a higher increase because of this region's cost of living, the company announced Monday.
All contract workers for Facebook, including shuttle drivers, cafeteria workers and janitors, must be paid at least $20 an hour by the middle of next year in the Bay Area, one of the nation's most expensive places to live. Bay Area-based workers who do content moderation must be paid at least $22 an hour. Those raises will also apply to workers in New York City and Washington, D.C., while in Seattle the company is raising contract workers' minimum wage to $18.
In 2015, the social media giant raised its U.S. contractors' minimum wage to $15, and required the companies that directly employ them to provide health benefits.
Besides the nod to the higher cost of living for workers in the Bay Area and other big metro areas, Facebook said it was going further for content moderators, whose pay it will raise to at least $18 across the board.
"We're going to provide them a higher base wage, additional benefits, and more supportive programs given the nature of their jobs," said Janelle Gale, vice president of human resources, and Arun Chandra, vice president of scaled operations, in a blog post Monday.
Content reviewers for the world's largest social network deal with disturbing content including suicides, violence and sexually graphic posts.
"All day, most days, I'm looking at graphic content from the time I clock in until I leave, except for breaks," an Austin-based content moderator named Daphne wrote last month on Workers for Workers' website. The group is made up of Facebook employees and contingent workers trying to "end the two-tiered employment system in our workplace and throughout the tech industry," it says.
Daphne, who did not give her last name in her blog post, said she has been working as a Facebook contractor for three years, first in ad review, and now in content moderation. She makes $16.50 an hour.
Facebook also announced new programs, tools and policies for content reviewers, including a requirement that they be provided with on-site counseling during all hours of operations, as well as audits and unannounced onsite checks for the vendors that employ them. For some content, new tools will allow reviewers to see blurred images, see them in black and white or both before reviewing, plus give workers the option of playing videos without sound.
Employee activism at places such as Google and Facebook has placed a spotlight on contract workers. The Washington Post reported last week on Facebook contractors pushing for higher pay and better working conditions. And Google employees are advocating to include temporary and contract workers in the company's recent decision to end its requirement for mandatory arbitration for employees.
It is unclear how many workers will see their pay go up as a result of the move Facebook announced Monday. The company does not share the numbers of contract workers it has.
Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison said Monday that the company has "tens of thousands of contingent workers," and that the largest number of those workers is based in the United States. He added that the company is working to implement similar changes in other countries. A documentary last year showed that in the Philippines, Facebook content moderators earn the equivalent of about $1 to $3 a day.