Amazon is using Pinkertons for union-busting surveillance

Originally published at:


Don’t forget, they also tried to sue Rockstar for a basically historically accurate depiction of them in Red Dead Redemption 2



If I remember the reporting from that, the Pinkerton Detective Agency in it’s current form is basically a trade mark owned by an actual PMC company. Used for marketing and to divorce certain corporate contracts from the rest of their business.

I guess they decided to return to the classics.


Those kids better be afraid! If that rabbit is anything like my Tofu (who looks exactly the same! Squee!) it’ll leave then bloody and battered for the lulz!


Funny how companies created expressly to extract indigenous wealth, create and maintain a poverty class and eliminate opportunities for upward mobility are still doing the same exact thing 170 years later…


“Pinkerton man, murderous bastard, I’m going to get even with you.”

1 Like

I hope Teddy left his big stick at the White House for someone in the Biden administration to pick up. Amazon is overdue some trust busting


Why does the 21st century keep regurgitating the worst bits of the 19th?


Low-frequency nostalgia cycle?


on a related note…


Go with the classics, I say.

1 Like

I don’t think Biden cares particularly about trust busting.
I’m basing that view on his political career.


Yeah the post is based on my hopes, not my expectations. Joe has always been pro big corporation. There is always a chance he appoints people further left to posts with real regulatory authority.


I used to work for a spin-off of the Pinkertons. Metropolitan International Security Services used to specialize in strike busting.

Basically the goon squad outside the plant with helmets, armor and batons keeping the striking workers and/or protesters off the grounds. You can’t find much of that work anymore.

I see no equivalence to sending spies into the workplace though. That’s espionage not security work.

I wonder if Amazon is using a prominent outside vendor deliberately, to keep things arm’s-length, or if this is a temporary arrangement while they develop the internal infrastructure to manage a nebulous cloud of cheap, largely subservient, subcontractors?

Given that they did more or less that for the (enormous and nontrivial) task of handling deliveries; despite the fact that they presumably enjoyed god-tier negotiating status in whatever agreements they previously operated with Fedex, UPS; and USPS under(I’m not sure if they’ve gone 100% on getting rid of name-brand external services, there are quite possibly edge cases where it’s not worth the trouble; but the vast majority of their deliveries are now anonymous subcontractors under rather than handled by independent services); I could easily imagine that Pinkertons could end up being replaced by some combination of in-house employees (for the relatively tech-heavy side of surveillance; the expertise required for things like their experiments with self-checkout stores, fulfillment center monitoring and optimization; and the market analytics involved in running the store, along with the pool of technical expertise that keeps AWS running, would be readily amenable to the electronic surveillance, communications monitoring, social network mapping, etc. side of things) and more or less anonymous; but technically 3rd party(especially if they get caught) white-labelled contractors for the more…hands on…work.

That is notable and weird. It’s never UPS who brings my stuff anymore. Now it is just some dude in a beat up van. That whole situation makes me very uncomfortable. Like, it’s clear something shady is going on and this won’t end well, but I don’t exactly how.


I’m not sure exactly how hardcore their offerings are, or if there are any really ugly “gently shepherding the locals away from extraction industry interests more important than their ‘rights’” stories; but the Pinkertons are, definitely, a subsidiary of Securitas AB; which has its hands in a lot of rent-a-cop and more-than-slightly-creepy “risk management” stuff.

1 Like

I think this could be a reason why it always felt so satisfying to blast away at the Pinkertons in RDR2. Most especially was turning their own gatling gun on them and ripping them to shreds.

I’m not an investigative reporter on the beat or anything; but my understanding is that the scheme is a combination of the classic franchising pitch (Own your own proven business with our EZ-toolkit! cheery pitch brochure here) and the new and cool ‘gig economy’ hypersurveilled-and-continuously-managed-but-nominally-independent-workforce scam(in that, given that logistics is a lot about tracking, Amazon is a lot about tracking; and Amazon is a lot about customer expectations of speedy delivery; so the EZ-toolkit involves a lot of being hooked into Amazon’s systems and tracked as you deliver packages, even if your official boss is the Amazon Delivery Services Partner franchisee; and the relationship between the ADS partner and Amazon is one where payments are linked to number of successful deliveries, so there’s an obvious incentive for the ADSP operators to be…optimistic about the feasibility of a given delivery load for the driver).

I don’t think that there are any fundamentally novel cons or ticking time bombs built in; just a lot of conveniently-they-are-a-3rd-party-contractor-who-doesn’t-reflect-on-us-if-anything-bad-happens plausible deniability along with an incentive structure that pretty much begs for overworking delivery drivers and skimping on overhead like pesky vehicle maintenance.

1 Like