Walmart hired defense giant to surveil employees

Claiming their intent was to protect shoppers, employees and its business, Bloomberg Business is reporting retail giant, Walmart, hired top defense contractor Lockheed Martin to monitor the activities of its employees.

It is alleged Lockheed closely observed Walmart’s employees’ social media and tracked employees who both organized and participated in protests against the chain.

“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.

Bloomberg’s sprawling tome is the result of an expected National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) hearing brought against Walmart for reputed reprisals against employees who demonstrated against the chain.

Although Walmart did not respond to the Bloomberg account, the retail chain did defend its actions with an e-mail which read:

“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.”

Walmart operates over 11,000 stores worldwide.

Monitoring employees in the workplace is not unusual; however, securing the services of a major defense contractor appears to be a bit unreasonable.

Companies have harnessed numerous devices to observe employees for years.  Recently, because of advances in technology and the advent of the Internet, firms are known to place global positioning systems (GPS) on company-owned cars, monitor computer keyboard strokes, video and audio record workplaces and collect information to determine whether or not employees hold second jobs.

Although Walmart eagerly contends its primary concern is the safety of consumers and employees, it is abundantly clear their real motives were to keep tabs on those employees they considered a potential source of irritation.

Walmart employees are known for protesting for higher wages.

Currently, the minimum hourly wage at Walmart rests at nine dollars an hour, but the company announced it would raise the hourly wage to $10 an hour in February.

Pushed by labor unions, “Our Walmart” has emerged to become a sort-of nemesis for the retail chain:  For the fourth year in a row, Walmart stores have been picketed by employees and labor organizers demanding a $15 hourly wage on Black Friday.

Despite Walmart offering a higher starting wage than the mandatory $7.25 an hour, which may make job-seekers envious, Walmart’s response is a bit excessive.


[RT News] [Bloomberg] [Photo courtesy]