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'Disgusting,' Says Bernie Sanders of Amazon Job Post Seeking Anti-Union Psy-Ops Expert

Observers at VICE said the ads show the retail tech giant sees "labor organizing as one of the biggest threats to its existence."

U.S. employees of Amazon, its supermarket subsidiary Whole Foods and supermarket delivery services were called to strike on May 1 to denounce employers accused of not sufficiently protecting them in the face of the pandemic. (Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Labor advocates sounded alarms this week after online retail giant Amazon posted and then deleted two ads seeking "analysts" that would, among other things, monitor social media and inform company stakeholders of "labor organizing threats against the company."

One of the ads was online since January, according to reporting from VICE, and the other since the end of July. 

"Disgusting," tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who led a successful effort in 2018 to push the company to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

"Jeff Bezos became the richest man on Earth while spying on, underpaying, and mistreating his workers. We must build a powerful trade union movement to stand up to the billionaire class and finally say: Enough. You cannot have it all," Sanders wrote.

After outrage over the ads spread online, Amazon took them down and told VICE, "the job post was not an accurate description of the role—it was made in error and has since been corrected." 

Amazon, which has seen a surge in business during the Covid-19 pandemic, has made a name for itself globally as a tyrannical corporation that treats employees poorly and actively works against employee organizing efforts.

"It appears Amazon sees labor organizing as one of the biggest threats to its existence," VICE tweeted.

"Workers, especially Black workers, have been telling us all for months that Amazon is targeting them for speaking out," Dania Rajendra, the Director of the Athena Coalition, an alliance of dozens of grassroots labor groups that organize Amazon workers, told VICE's sister publication, Motherboard.

VICE and Motherboard also uncovered documents online that reveal that for years Amazon has been monitoring social media pages used by independent contractors in particular. VICE reported Tuesday:

The documents show that Amazon is systematically monitoring, categorizing, and analyzing the nominally closed social media pages utilized by their Flex Drivers, who are independent contractors who deliver packages and groceries for Amazon and Whole Foods in more than 50 cities across the United States and in several other countries. These workers use their own vehicles. As independent contractors, Amazon Flex drivers do not receive healthcare benefits, sick pay, overtime pay, worker's compensation or other benefits guaranteed to Amazon employees. Amazon also relies on contracted workers employed by small companies, known as delivery service partners, to deliver packages.

Closed Facebook groups have been used by gig workers who work for a wide swath of companies to organize labor actions and strikes across vast, disjointed workforces.

After being contacted by Motherboard about the documents, Amazon said monitoring private Facebook pages "doesn't meet our standards, and they are no longer doing this," VICE reported. The company also took documents uncovered by Motherboard offline.

Referring to the ads Amazon deleted this week, Rajendra demanded answers.

"This job description is proof that Amazon intends to continue on this course," she said. "The public deserves to know whether Amazon will continue to fill these positions, even if they're no longer publicly posted."

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