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Amazon deletes job posts seeking to hire people to monitor ‘labour organising threats’

Amazon deleted a job listing from its employment website where it was looking to hire an “intelligence analyst” who would have been responsible for, among other things, monitoring “labor organizing threats” against the company. The company also deleted another job listing for a “senior intelligence analyst” who would have been responsible for monitoring “future risk” such as “organized labor”, and “hostile political leaders”. The company deleted both the listings on September 2 following outcry on social media.

Amazon, in a statement to several press outlets, said that “the job post was not an accurate description of the role — it was made in error and has since been corrected”. However, the company does not appear to have clarified what this “error” was. Vice noted that the job listing for the intelligence analyst was present on Amazon’s portal since January 6, 2020.

“Analysts must be capable of engaging and informing L7+ ER Principals (attorney stakeholders) on sensitive topics that are highly confidential, including labor organizing threats against the company, establish and track funding and activities connected to corporate campaigns (internal and external) against Amazon,” Amazon wrote in the job description for the intelligence analyst.

Another responsibility of the senior intelligence analyst was to “close knowledge gaps by initiating and maintaining engagement with topical subject matter experts on topics of importance to Amazon, including hate groups, policy initiatives, geopolitical issues, terrorism, law enforcement, and organized labor”.

The many ways in which Amazon has suppressed workers’ rights

Amazon has had a demonstrated history of poor working conditions, and suppressing its workers from unionising, so much so that none of Amazon’s contract, warehouse, or corporate workforces are unionised. On September 2, Vice reported that it has a secret program and team to spy on its workers in closed Facebook groups. The company was found gathering reports about the social media posts of its Flex drivers to ascertain, among other things, whether they were planning a strike or protest against the company. The reports reportedly have drivers’ full names, and any noteworthy posts they might have made in several closed driver Facebook groups.

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Vice found that using the tool, Amazon could monitor posts made by drivers in real time, where they are sorted in categories like “App Issue,” “Media Coverage,” “Marketing,” “DP [delivery partner] Feedback,” among others. These categories reportedly have further sub-categories to narrow down the query even further.

The company was reportedly using a heat map to monitor its Whole Foods stores throughout the US to track a possible unionising campaign. Amazon employees had also sued the company, alleging that it allowed the coronavirus to spread by mandating unsafe working conditions and prioritising productivity over precautions.

Amazon has fired several employees who have either criticised the company or have helped workers in unionising, later saying that they were fired because they violated “internal” or “corporate” policies. In New York city, for instance, it had fired a warehouse worker Chris Smalls helped labour union action. In 2018, Amazon had patented a wristband that could detect the location of warehouse employees and track their hand movements in real-time.

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