(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. posted and abruptly deleted a job listing on its site for analysts to research “labor organizing threats against the company” and compile information that could be used to seek restraining orders against activists.
Labor activists said the posting suggests Amazon is trying to prevent workers from collective bargaining to improve their pay and working conditions. Amazon employs thousands of hourly warehouse workers who pack and ship orders, which has made it a target of union organizers.
“This job description is proof that Amazon intends to continue on this course,” said Dania Rajendra, director of Athena, a coalition of activist groups that frequently criticizes Amazon. “The public deserves to know whether Amazon will continue to fill these positions, even if they’re no longer publicly posted.”
An Amazon spokeswoman said the job posting was not an accurate description of the role, was made in error and “has since been corrected.” Forbes and other publications reported on the listing earlier.
Amazon has emerged as a key lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic that helped people get food and household supplies they needed while avoiding crowded stores. It has also been criticized by workers and advocacy groups that say it did not take adequate precautions to protect employees, and accuses the company of firing people who spoke out.
Read more: Covid Gag Rules at U.S. Companies Are Putting Everyone at Risk
The tactics described in the posting are common, but are rarely set forth so explicitly in public help-wanted ads, according to legal scholars.
“I was struck by how it brazen it was,” said Veena Dubal, a law professor at UC Hastings. “It just must be within this particular corporate environment that there is a different sense of what is OK.”
The job description reminded her of robber barons a century ago who used court injunctions to shut down protests, she added.
Lawsuits against unions and activists can derail organizing and chill criticism of a company, even if the corporation ultimately loses in court, said Brishen Rogers, an associate law professor at Temple University. “The leaders of the organization end up spending all their time dealing with the lawsuit instead of dealing with the agenda of the organization.”
(Updates with comments from legal professors from sixth paragraph.)
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