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Amazon is using union-busting Pinkerton spies to track warehouse workers and labor movements at the company, according to a new report

Amazon is using union-busting Pinkerton spies to track warehouse workers and labor movements at the company, according to a new report

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Amazon has hired detectives with the infamous Pinkerton spy agency to monitor European workers’ labor union organizing efforts, per a Motherboard report.
  • The outlet obtained leaked documents from Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center, where data analysts can easily track workers’ union organizing activities down to the date, time, and location.
  • Pinkerton spies have a history of busting up unions: Their involvement in a steelworker strike in 1892 eventually led to states prohibiting the use of third-party security in labor disputes.
  • The Motherboard report highlights Amazon’s latest efforts to prevent its workers from unionizing — it has a long track record of being staunchly opposed to labor unions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon is hiring detectives from the notorious Pinkerton agency to spy on warehouse workers and monitor them for labor unionization efforts, according to a Monday Motherboard report.

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to the outlet that Amazon has indeed recruited operatives from Pinkerton, the spy agency that has a centuries-long history of upending worker union activities, among other services. In 2019, for example, Pinkerton spies were “inserted” into a warehouse in Wroclaw, Poland, to look into an allegation that job candidates were being coached for job interviews.

The discovery was made after Motherboard obtained internal emails written by members of Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center in 2019. The leaked documents reportedly show Amazon analysts tracking union organizing activity of workers in Europe, with members having the ability to stay updated on labor organizing efforts conducted at warehouses, right down to the date, time, location, and the number of workers involved. 

The report also revealed that the data analysts used Facebook and Instagram to monitor the activity of social justice and environmental activist groups, including Greta Thunberg’s Fridays4future and Greenpeace.

Some of the documents suggest that the same monitoring tactics used in Europe could be being used in the Americas, according to the report.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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.

homestead mill strike
The Homestead Mill Strike of 1892 in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

As Christy Hoffman, the general secretary of UNI Global Union, told Motherboard, Amazon’s deployment of Pinkerton spies to monitor workers’ strikes echoes the same tactics used by 19th-century industry tycoons and comes as the company remains under the microscope of anti-trust investigators in the EU and in the US.

“For years people have been comparing big tech bosses to nineteenth-century robber barons, and now by using Pinkertons to do his dirty work, Bezos is making that connection even clearer,” Hoffman told Motherboard.

The developments are the latest in a string of evidence that highlights Amazon’s robust efforts to monitor and crackdown on its workers unionizing. The retail giant has been staunchly opposed to labor unions — the firm listed, but quickly removed, a job opening earlier this year for an analyst that would monitor employee’s efforts to organize.

While CEO Jeff Bezos and his ecommerce giant have profited heavily from home-bound customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon workers have been advocating for better working conditions, staging strikes and protests. Christian Smalls, a former warehouse worker at Amazon’s New York fulfillment center, was fired after the company said he ignored social distancing recommendations during a walkout in March. Leaked documents, obtained at the time by Motherboard, revealed an internal effort to mount a PR campaign against Smalls. The documents reportedly revealed that Amazon’s top lawyer called Smalls “not smart or articulate” and said the company should “make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

A separate Motherboard report from September found that Amazon had been using a tool to monitor dozens of private and public social media groups to find drivers that were organizing strikes or protests.

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The Home Depot's Black Friday sale is live now through December 2 — here are the best deals we've found so far

The Home Depot's Black Friday sale is live now through December 2 — here are the best deals we've found so far

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Black Friday 2020 The Home Depot Deals 2x1

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Appliances, furniture, and home-improvement items don’t usually come cheap, but like many other online retailers, The Home Depot has begun Black Friday sales extra early this year.

Between now and December 2, you can save up to 40% off major appliances and home improvement tools, along with steep discounts on seasonal accessories like fake Christmas trees. There are also additional savings of up to $700 if you buy one or more appliances.

If you can’t wait to receive your delivery, there are more than 200 sale items eligible for free in-store pickup. They mainly comprise of tools and holiday decor. 

The best appliance deals you’ll find include $150 off a Dyson vacuum, $70 off a Honeywell thermostat, $211 off a GE dishwasher, $79 off a Gorilla ladder, $1,051 off an LG smart refrigerator, and $50 off a Shark vacuumSelect tools and accessories are also on sale, including $100 off a Makita circular saw kit.

The best early Black Friday deals at The Home Depot

Other great Black Friday 2020 deals at The Home Depot

  1. Husky Mechanics Tool Set (270-piece), $99 (originally $179) [You save $80] 
  2. Dewalt ATOMIC 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Combo Kit (4-Tool) with Two 2.0 Ah Batteries and Charger, $399 (originally $768) [You save $369]
  3. Dyson Slim Ball Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner, $199.99 (originally $349.99) [You save $150]
  4. GE 1.7 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave, $358 (originally $399) [You save $41]
  5. GE 30 in,  5.0 cu. ft. Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Convection Oven and Air Fry, stainless steel, $648 (originally $1,199) [You save $551]

  6. Husky 6 ft. Adjustable Height Solid Wood Top Workbench, $265.99 (originally $379.99) [You save $114]
  7. LG Electronics 2.0 cu. ft. Over-the-Range Microwave in PrintProof Stainless Steel with EasyClean, $248 (originally $429) [You save $181]
  8. Samsung 7.5 cu. ft. Platinum Electric Dryer with Steam, $728 (originally $999) [You save $271]

When does The Home Depot’s Black Friday sale start? 

The Home Depot’s Black Friday sale is live now through December 2.

What should you buy on Black Friday?

Historically, the best Black Friday deals have been on TVs, smart home devices, gaming consoles, video games, and kitchen appliances. The Home Depot also offers big markdowns on tools and other home-improvement equipment and supplies.

How we select the best deals at The Home Depot

  • We only chose products that meet our high standard of coverage, and that we’ve either used ourselves or researched carefully.
  • We compared the prices against other retailers like Best Buy and Lowe’s and only included the deals that are the same or better (not including promotional discounts that come from using certain credit cards).
  • All deals are at least 20% off, with the occasional exception for products that are rarely discounted or provide an outsized value.

More Black Friday 2020 deals coverage

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Ivan Rodionov im Gespräch mit Albrecht Müller: Sind Russen und Deutsche noch „gute Nachbarn“ im 1990 vereinbarten Sinne?

Video-Gespräch vom 23. November 2020

Ivan Rodionov, Leiter Unternehmensentwicklung und Kommunikation von RT Deutsch, und Albrecht Müller gehen der Frage nach: Sind Deutschland und die Russische Föderation noch “gute Nachbarn” im Sinne der Entspannungspolitik? Wie kam es zur jetzigen Situation? Welche Auswege gibt es?

Rodionov meint, es habe spätestens durch den “Fall Nawalny” einen Bruch und eine “Ernüchterung” gegeben.
Müller erkennt eine gewisse “Naivität” der russischen Regierung gegenüber der Regierung Merkel und den Interessen und den Methoden des “Westens”. Spätestens beim Fall Nawalny sei sichtbar geworden, wie im Westen gearbeitet wird.

Ivan Rodionov verwies auf die lange Geschichte des Bildes von den Russen. Das medial vermittelte Bild über Russen sei seit dem Kaiserreich “fremd, gefährlich und aggressiv”.
Ein ähnliches Zerrbild, nun mit dem “Autokraten Putin”, werde tagein tagaus vermittelt.

Gibt es Auswege?
Grassroots, Verständigung auf der Ebene der Bevölkerung
Tourismus stärken. Dazu sei es vor allem wichtig, die Visapflicht abzuschaffen. Die russische Seite habe das gewollt. Das Vorhaben stagniert.

  • Ivan Rodionov
    Unternehmensentwicklung und Kommunikation RT Deutsch
  • Albrecht Müller
    Herausgeber der NachDenkSeiten.de; ehem. Leiter der Planungsabteilung im Bundeskanzleramt bei Willy Brandt und Helmut Schmidt