Amazon has hired operatives from the Pinkerton detective agency to spy on warehouse workers, track labor unionization efforts, and keep tabs on social justice groups, a new report claims.
Motherboard described a trove of internal Amazon reports that it said outlined the online retail giant's 'obsessive monitoring of organized labor and social and environmental movements' in an article published Monday.
The reports leaked to Motherboard were written in 2019 by intelligence analysts with Amazon's Global Security Operations Center, the security division that is responsible for protecting employees, vendors, and assets at its facilities worldwide.
They revealed how Amazon recruited operatives from Pinkerton, a US-based spy agency with a decades-long record of infiltrating labor unions to thwart strikes, to monitor workers' labor and union-organizing activities around Europe.
Jeff Bezos' firm also tracked European activists - including Greta Thunberg's climate group Fridays4future, the Yellow Vest movement in France, and Greenpeace - because they believed those demonstrations were a threat to their business.
Some of the documents suggested that Amazon could be using the same surveillance tactics in the United States, Motherboard said.
However, Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski told Business Insider that the firm partners with Pinkerton to "secure high-value shipments in transit," not to gather intelligence on warehouse workers and that all activities are "fully in line with local laws."
'Like any other responsible business, we maintain a level of security within our operations to help keep our employees, buildings, and inventory safe,' Levandowski said.
Levandowski further shared in media that "like any other responsible business, we maintain a level of security within our operations to help keep our employees, buildings, and inventory safe. That includes having an internal investigations team who work with law enforcement agencies as appropriate, and everything we do is in line with local laws and conducted with the full knowledge and support of local authorities." The Pinkertons were used as a resource by 19th-century industrial bigwigs to spy on unions and to break up worker-held strikes. Steelworkers held a strike in 1892 that devolved into violence and the death of a dozen people when Carnegie Steel Company recruited 300 Pinkertons to act as armed guards, according to History.com. The event led to some states passing laws to prohibit the use of third-party security forces in labor disputes.