Municipal Government

Walmart’s Massive Spy Operation

December 3, 2015
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Walmart’s response to efforts to organize its 1 million workers included hiring military contractor Lockheed Martin to spy on their social-media postings, according to documents from a National Labor Relations Board investigation into complaints of retaliation.

When the company learned of plans for a possible strike on Black Friday in 2012, its security apparatus logged incidents as small as a cashier in Virginia apparently joking with a customer about going on strike, as well as personally tracking the about 100 workers it considered most active in the OUR Walmart proto-union. Lockheed’s LM Wisdom intelligence-gathering subsidiary, which Walmart hired to monitor social media, notified the company within minutes of Twitter postings by artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez.

The company also began working with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces after it heard that people from the Occupy movement might participate in protests at its Arkansas headquarters in 2013. Walmart would not comment on specific allegations in the documents, but said in a statement that it had to take action “when outside groups attempt to deliberately disrupt our business.” “We’re artists, not ISIS,” Rodriguez told Bloomberg Businessweek. An NLRB administrative judge concluded the retaliation case in mid-October, and may issue a decision early next year. Read more

December 3, 2015

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