- Senators Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urging the company to stop spying on workers through their social media activity in an effort to monitor workers’ efforts to unionize or protest, per a Motherboard report.
- The news comes two weeks after news surfaced that the tech giant was using a tool to monitor dozens of private and public social media groups to find drivers that were organizing strikes or protests.
- Amazon has a track record of being staunchly opposed to its workers organizing, even listing a job opening for an analyst to come on board to monitor employees’ efforts to unionize.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Two US senators have demanded that Amazon stop spying on workers through their social media posts, per a report from Motherboard. The news comes two weeks after a separate Motherboard report revealed the company was monitoring dozens of private and public social media groups of its workers in the US, the UK, and Spain.
Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday urging the tech giant to end its “anti-worker, anti-union efforts, including the Advocacy Operations Social Listening team.”
“The magnitude of this surveillance, the lengths to which Amazon went to keep it hidden from your own workers, and its admitted purpose are extremely disturbing and are indicative of just how much of a threat Amazon perceives its own workers to be,” the senators jointly wrote. They called upon Amazon to instead focus their efforts on improving the company’s health and safety record during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Motherboard’s initial report detailed how Amazon was using a tool to find drivers online who were planning for a strike or protest against Amazon. Workers had been ramping up their advocacy for better working conditions during the pandemic by staging strikes and protests.
In a statement to Business Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said: “We have a variety of ways to gather driver feedback and we have teams who work every day to ensure we’re advocating to improve the driver experience, particularly through hearing from drivers directly. Upon being notified, we discovered one group within our delivery team that was aggregating information from closed groups. While they were trying to support drivers, that approach doesn’t meet our standards, and they are no longer doing this as we have other ways for drivers to give us their feedback.”
Amazon has been a staunch opponent to its workers forming a union, so much so that Amazon posted a job opening in early September for an analyst that would find employee’s efforts to unionize and then report back to higher-ups. It quickly deleted the job listing after Business Insider’s Aaron Holmes reached out for comment.
Amazon has profited heavily during the pandemic as stay-at-home orders have driven people into their homes and onto online marketplaces. CEO Jeff Bezos has in turn seen a spike in his already colossal fortune — he is now the richest person in the world with a net worth of more than $200 billion.
Business has plummeted across multiple industries during the pandemic, and the gig economy is no exception. A slump in activity has increased competition in the realm, so much so that Amazon Flex drivers were recently found to be hanging smartphones in trees located outside of Whole Foods stores and delivery stations for a leg up. The proximity to where the orders originated meant that the system was more likely to choose them when an order was ready to be delivered to its recipient.