Walmart have hired weapons and security giant Lockheed Martin to spy on its employees, leaked documents reveal.
The retail giant hired Lockheed years ago with the intent to monitor activism in its workforce. Lockheed Martin were tasked with monitoring employees’ social media accounts and to report anyone who participated in protests to bosses.
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In addition to hiring Lockheed Martin to keep tabs on employees’ social media feeds, the companies ranked stores by labor activity and monitored employees who were known to be involved in labor activism, according to Bloomberg.
The defense contractor offers a product called LM Wisdom, which is marketed as a tool for fighting drug and human trafficking, but which Walmart used to track employees in 2012 and 2013. Lockheed Martin analysts would follow the Twitter and Facebook feeds of workers and then report information about labor activism back to the company’s corporate headquarters. The defense contractor also put together a map of likely routes for five “Ride for Respect” bus caravans that were sent to HQ to demonstrate.
In one of the documents obtained, when asked about the company’s relationship with Lockheed Martin, Walmart Senior Vice President of Labor Relations Karen Ann Cassey said that the company was even “partnering with the FBI/the Joint Terrorism Task Force” to monitor protesters that planned to go to the company’s headquarters, saying that similar protests have become violent.
Walmart didn’t comment on the specific allegations in the Bloomberg story, but sent a statement via email arguing that the measures had been taken to protect their shoppers, employees and business.
“Unfortunately, there are occasions when outside groups attempt to deliberately disrupt our business and on behalf of our customers and associates we take action accordingly,” the statement reads.
Bloomberg retrieved the information on Lockheed Martin’s labor-monitoring services by acquiring documents ahead of a National Labor Relations Board hearing. The case concerns Walmart’s alleged history retaliation against employees who protested against the retailer.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced that its company-wide minimum wage would go from $9 in 2015 and $10. While OUR Walmart touts this wage increase as a victory, they remain steadfast in their demand for a minimum of $15 an hour. The group will be protesting this Black Friday for the fourth year in a row.