Did Amazon attempt to hire people to spy on union activity within workforce? E-commerce giant says wording for position was inaccurate
Amazon has denied it was advertising for several positions that entailed spying on union activity within its workforce.
The BBC has alleged that Amazon has withdrawn two job adverts for “intelligence analysts”, one of which would be based in based in Phoenix, US.
The BBC posted a screenshot of the original advert, but Amazon reportedly said the wording “was not an accurate description of the role” and had since been corrected.
The BBC said it could not find new versions of the ads.
So what was the wording that triggered the alleged spying concerns?
Well, the original advert went live this week and read: “Analysts must be capable of engaging and informing… stakeholders on sensitive topics that are highly confidential, including labour organising threats against the company.”
And among previous experience desired for the role, Amazon listed “officer in the intelligence community, the military, law enforcement, or a related global security role in the private sector.”
According to the BBC there was also a similar job listing for a senior intelligence analyst, which has also been removed.
Both pages now reportedly display an error message saying the content has disappeared.
Amazon initially reportedly said it was standard practice for large businesses to employee people to carry out such activity.
But overnight the adverts were withdrawn, the BBC reported.
“The job post was not an accurate description of the role – it was made in error and has since been corrected,” Amazon later told the BBC.
Hiring of personnel to spy upon the workforce is reportedly illegal in the United States, but is said to be widely used in corporate America.
Amazon for its part has resisted unionisation of its workforce since its founding in 1994, and instead has encouraged a policy where workers say their concerns with management.
Want to know about the history of Amazon? Try our Tales in Tech History piece.
In 2019 the firm even cancelled its plans to build campus in Queens, after opposition among local residents to the tax breaks as part of the deal, and Amazon’s refusal to deal with demands to allow its New York workers to unionise.
Amazon is also reportedly facing court action after it told staff that frequent hand washing as part of a toilet break was not counted as part of a productivity monitor known as as time off task (TOT).
It later reportedly relented.
In May this year Tim Bray, a senior engineer with Amazon Web Services, resigned over Amazon’s decision to fire staff who had protested what they called insufficient virus protections.
But Amazon also made headlines earlier in the year when it fired a warehouse worker in Staten Island (New York), for reportedly breaking quarantine rules at the firm.
Meanwhile Christian Smalls was fired after he had helped organise a walk out at the location (another took place in Detroit) in protest at Amazon’s alleged lack of protection of the workforce during the pandemic.
Five US senators sent Amazon chief Jeff Bezos a letter demanding more information on the firing of Christian Smalls.
In June the US state of California said it was looking into Amazon’s business practices as part of a broader inquiry into the company.