Has anyone ever actually been killed by hired corporate goons?

You know the standard plot device in movies like The Firm or Michael Clayton or On Deadly Ground or hundreds of others where some evil corporate bigwig hires some goons to make some inconvenient problem “disappear”.

Has there actually ever been a case like that?

Also, keep in mind I’m not talking about “private security” companies like Blackwater.

Check out a history of the Debeers diamond concern.
Also, depending on where and when you are, there’s sometimes no difference between hired goons and private security.

Do the Pinkertons count?

What about Karen Silkwood?

Henry Ford kept a bunch of ex-pinkerton thugs on his payroll, I think this group was headed by a guy named Sorenson?
Anyway, I don’t think the killed anybody, but a couple of UAW orgaizers got roughed up a bit by this group.

There’s the Battle of Matewan, and the subsequent assassination of Police Chief Sid Hatfield by coal company goons.

I think existing UMW president Tony Boyle dispatched union goons to dispatch rival Jock Yablonski (@1970).

… and of course, if you think people outside of the U.S. count, there are plenty of cases in Central and South America, Africa, etc.
I’m not sure how many of them would strictly meet the OP, as there often wasn’t a lot of difference between a thug working for the factory owner directly and the secret police working for the dictator, so the lines are going to be very fuzzy. Not that the labor activist really cared who exactly it was that shot him and dumped him in a ditch.

The Homestead Strike and the Battle of Matewan have already been referenced. Look into the early attempts to organize labor in the US and you’ll find plenty of accounts of people being murdered by corporate thugs. See also the Anaconda Road Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre (the thugs were technically National Guardsmen), and the Columbine Mine Massacre.

First one I thought of.

Those are ones I thought of. I’m reading the biography of Earl Warren (14th chief justice of SCOTUS and the court that brought us Brown v Board of Education)

In his career as a DA he successfully prosecuted at least one murder ordered by union bosses.

There is the case of Coca Cole allegedly using paramilitaries to assassinate union workers in Columbia:


The case in Miami was ultimately dismissed, but because “the alleged wrongdoing either occurred in the United States but was too removed from the alleged injury or occurred abroad but did not have a substantial origin within the United States.” Not because of an factual dispute of the charges.

Heheh. I popped in to mention this too. I read The Battle of Blair Mountain by Robert Shogan a couple years ago. I was amazed at the scale of this conflict and the audacity of the mining company.

Jimmy Hoffa?

Don’t forget that in at least a couple of cases, the hired goons didn’t merely whack people their corporate bosses didn’t like, but overthrew entire governments.

Nitpick (and a pet peeve of mine): Warren was Chief Justice of the United States, not of the Supreme Court. See 28 U.S.C. 1.

The Molly Maguires of NE Penna. saw some bad craziness at the hands of the Pinkerton agents: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Maguires

The Pullman Strike was also rather unpleasant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pullman_strike

Only the largest corporations maintain “in-house” goon squads. Most simply subcontract with the Mafia.

  1. It’s Coca Cola
  2. They did not have direct control over the facility at the time. It was run on their behalf though.

Another example: the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis_Teamsters_Strike_of_1934

But the “corporate goons” there were members of the Minneapolis Police force, or hundreds of corporate employees who were hastily ‘deputized’ into the police force.

Yeah, from my reading on the matter (someone on the Dope actually sent me a long file about this once because I was curious) even the unions pretty much say that even though Coca-Cola could probably have done some things to reduce the violence, they aren’t actually legally or morally culpable for what happened. I was all ready to join the Coke boycott before I read more about it.