McDonald’s has, for years, spied on activists and employees engaged in labor organizing and the Fight for $15 campaign. Internal McDonald’s corporate documents obtained by Vice confirmed that the company has been concerned with gathering “strategic intelligence” on workers involved in efforts to secure higher wages, better working conditions and a union. This includes using data collection software to monitor employees and their networks through social media and “a team of intelligence analysts in the Chicago and London offices”.
Surveillance against labor organizers is nothing new. What’s new is the use of technology to aid in these efforts, which may also be in violation of federal labor law.
Under an economic system that enriches CEOs by underpaying workers for the value of their time and pocketing the profits, there is a direct connection between the dystopian anti-labor tactics used by the likes of McDonald’s and Amazon and the $1.3tn transfer of wealth to the country’s 664 billionaires over the course of the pandemic. Bezos’s path to becoming the world’s first trillionaire is precisely because of his successful efforts at preventing unions from taking hold in his private empire.
As Marx put it: capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.