Walmart hired weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin to spy on employees using human trafficking software






(NaturalNews) Walmart has come under fire in recent years for several things, mostly for being a piker when it comes to paying its employees, but also for sourcing almost all of its retail goods from overseas manufacturers and suppliers, most notably China. That latter fact really stings for those of us who remember founder Bill Walton’s “Buy American” campaign in the 1980s, which catapulted the company to the top of the retail food chain.

In addition to that, the sheer size of the retail behemoth has become a sore point in many communities, where the retailer wields outsized influence on city councils more concerned about tax earnings than whether or not the mom-and-pop shop down the street can survive another difficult year.

With that being said, it should come as no surprise that the world’s top retailer would do everything in its power to protect its core business model – namely, its non-unionized workforce, which, to be fair, enables the company to offer products, goods and services at the lowest possible price.

So, as Bloomberg Business reported, in the fall of 2012, when the company’s executives first learned that workers were considering a strike on Black Friday, they quickly mobilized “with the efficiency that had built a retail empire.”

Hiring a defense contractor?

Bloomberg elaborated further:

Walmart has a system for almost everything: When there’s an emergency or a big event, it creates a Delta team. The one formed that September included representatives from global security, labor relations, and media relations. For Walmart, the stakes were enormous. The billions in sales typical of a Walmart Black Friday were threatened. The company’s public image, especially in big cities where its power and size were controversial, could be harmed. But more than all that: Any attempt to organize its 1 million hourly workers at its more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. was an existential danger. Operating free of unions was as essential to Walmart’s business as its rock-bottom prices.”

One group of workers that was supported by a union – OUR Walmart – was pressing for more full-time jobs and higher wages, along with schedules that were more predictable and, presumably, more worker- and family-friendly. Officially known as the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, the group was dismissed publicly by Walmart brass who told various news outlets, among other things, that the group’s membership figures were highly exaggerated.

In truth, however, Walmart execs were concerned enough about the group’s emergence and potential that bosses at Walmart HQ in Bentonville, Ark., actually hired an intelligence-gathering service from top defense contractor Lockheed Martin, contacted the FBI, added staff to its labor hotline, ranked stores based on labor activity, and began to monitor (secretly) employees and activists linked to the union-sponsored organization.

‘We take action accordingly’

At that point about 100 workers were actively working to recruit members to OUR Walmart. However, Bloomberg noted, employees all across the company were monitored as well, with even the shortest of conversations regarding the organization reported to the “home office” (Bentonville HQ).

Bloomberg noted that the details of the Walmart surveillance and reporting operations are contained in more than 1,000 pages of reports, playbooks, emails, charts and graphs, as well as testimony from the company’s chief labor relations official at that time. The documents were handed over in advance of a National Labor Relations Board hearing regarding OUR Walmart’s allegations that members of the group were retaliated against by Walmart brass. Testimony was given in January 2015; a judge concluded the case in mid-October, and a ruling may come by early 2016, Bloomberg reported.

Walmart did not comment specifically on the hearing, testimony or the case in general, but did issue a statement to Bloomberg, which said in part:

“We are firmly committed to the safety and security of our 2.2 million associates as well as the 260 million customers we serve each week. It’s important to remember that Walmart is the largest company in the world with 11,500 stores in 28 countries. 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.”


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