A new report is alleging that Amazon has hired the Pinkerton agency to spy on its warehouse employees with the sole aim of monitoring any unionization efforts. A spokesperson from the e-commerce giant confirmed that indeed the company has hired several detectives from the infamous agency.
Pinkerton has a century-old history of upending union talks in organizations. This recent report claims that operatives from the agency were inserted into a warehouse in Wroclaw, Poland back in 2019. The agents were put into the warehouse to investigate allegations that some candidates were being coached for Amazon job interviews.
The spokesman also went on to note that the Pinkerton agents are used to "secure high-value shipments in transit” and nothing else. She went on to refute claims that the e-commerce giant is spying on workers and gathering intelligence on any unionization activities.
Amazon also made it clear that all activities done by Pinkerton are “fully in line with local laws.” However, the recent report released by Motherboard notes that it acquired leaked emails written by members of Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center.
According to the report, the emails show analysts from the company tracking union organizing activity for workers in Europe. The report also notes that members of the global security team seem to be able to stay well updated on any labor organizing efforts at all its warehouses.
It's hard to imagine how they would be able to do that if it wasn’t for intelligence from the ground. It’s also emerging that Amazon has been using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to monitor any social justice activities targeting the company by activists and other lobbyists.
But Amazon insists that it doesn’t create fake social media accounts to track social movements. It’s not clear though whether Amazon has been engaging in the same underhand union-busting tactics in the US. But many analysts feel that if they are daring enough to do that in Europe, then it’s very likely that even in the US things are the same. Despite this, the fact that Amazon is using Pinkerton should cause concern.
The agency was used in the 19th century by industrial bigwigs to spy on unions and break up any strikes led by workers. There was an incident in 1892 where a steel worker's strike turned violent after the employer inserted Pinkerton armed agents to stop it. Dozens of people were killed. As a result, several states passed legislation that banned the use of third-party security forces in labor disputes.
Some experts are warning that Amazon is trying to use the same tactics that were used by the 19th-century industrialist to control the labor force, something that should get everyone worried. It’s not the first time Amazon has been accused of tracking and breaking any efforts to unionize its workforce. But the company maintains that it does so for the best interest of the company.