According to a new report, Pinkerton, torn by Amazon unions, follows spies to track warehouse workers and the company’s work movements


Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Mandel Ngan / AFP through Getty Images
  • Amazon used detectives at the infamous spy agency Pinkerton to track European workers ’union organization efforts, according to a motherboard report.

  • The group has received leaked documents from Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center, where data analysts can easily track employee union organization activities to date, time and location.

  • The story of Pinkerton’s spies disintegrated the unions: in 1892, their involvement in a steel strike eventually led to states banning the use of third-party security in labor disputes.

  • The motherboard report highlights Amazon’s latest efforts to prevent its employees from joining a union – it has long been seen as strongly opposed to unions.

  • Visit the Business Insider website for more news.

Amazon is hiring detectives from the infamous Pinkerton agency, according to Monday’s motherboard report, to spy on warehouse workers and monitor them for union unification efforts.

An Amazon spokesman confirmed to the press that Amazon had indeed recruited operational staff from Pinkerton, a spy agency that looks back on a centuries-old history in addition to workers ’union activities, among other things.

Per motherboard, Pinkerton’s spies were “inserted” into a warehouse in Wroclaw, Poland in 2019 to investigate the claim that job candidates are being recruited for a job interview.

Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski told Business Investor that the company, in partnership with Pinkerton, “provides high-value shipments during shipment” so as not to gather intelligence about warehouse workers and that all activities are “fully compliant with local laws.”

The motherboard received internal emails in 2019 written by members of the Amazon Global Security Operations Center. The leaked documents allegedly show that Amazon analysts are tracking the organizing activities of European workers ’unions, and members can track work organization efforts in warehouses. the date, time, place and number of employees involved.

The report also revealed that data analysts used Facebook and Instagram to monitor the activities of social justice and environmental activist groups, including Greta Thunberg on Friday4future and Greenpeace. Amazon says the company’s analysts don’t create social media accounts to track social movements.

Some reports suggest that the observation tactics used in Europe can be applied in the Americas.

Levandowski told Business Insider that “like any other responsible business, we maintain a certain level of security in our work to help ensure the security of our employees, buildings and inventory. This includes setting up an internal investigation team to work together as appropriate. with law enforcement, and everything we do is in accordance with local law and takes place with the full knowledge and support of local authorities. “

The Pinkertons were used by 19th-century industrial greats as a resource to spy on unions and dismantle strikes by workers. The steel workers went on a strike in 1892, which resulted in violence and the deaths of dozens of people when the Carnegie Steel Company recruited 300 Pinkertons as armed guards, writes History.com. As a result of the incident, some states passed laws prohibiting the use of third-party security forces in labor disputes.

farm mill strike
A farm mill strikes in 1892 on a farm in Pennsylvania. PhotoQuest / Getty Images

As Christy Hoffman, secretary general of the UNI Global Union, told the motherboard, monitoring Amazon Pinkerton spies for workers ’strikes follows the same tactics used by 19th-century tycoons and comes when the company remains under the microscope of antitrust investigators. in the EU and the US.

“For years, people have likened the great technical bosses to nineteenth-century robber barons, and now that he’s done his dirty work with the help of Pinkertons, Bezos is making that connection even clearer,” Hoffman told the motherboard.

The developments present a series of recent pieces of evidence that highlight Amazon’s strong efforts to monitor and curb the unionization of workers. The retail giant is firmly opposed to unions – the company listed but quickly removed the stock earlier this year for an analyst who was monitoring employee organizing efforts.

While CEO and e-commerce giant Jeff Bezos benefited greatly from home-based customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon employees advocated better working conditions, strikes and protests. Christian Smalls, a former warehousekeeper at Amazon’s New York performance center, was fired after the company said it ignored social distance recommendations during the March job cessation. The leaked documents acquired by the motherboard at the time revealed internal efforts to implement a PR campaign against Smalls. According to the news, the documents revealed that Amazon’s chief lawyer called Smalls “not smart or articulate” and said the company “should make him the face of the whole union / organizing movement”.

A separate September report from the motherboard found that Amazon was using a device to watch dozens of private and public social media groups to find drivers to organize a strike or demonstration.

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