E-commerce giant Amazon has apologized to a congressman after falsely denying that some of its workers are forced at times to urinate in plastic bottles.
The e-commerce giant also has admitted that some of its employees do in fact urinate in bottles but claimed it’s a problem faced by its drivers alone.
The argument started last week with a tweet from Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin.
‘Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,’ Pocan tweeted, in an apparent reference to Amazon’s opposition to efforts to unionize a major facility in Alabama.
Amazon’s official account quickly responded, saying: ‘You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.’
But several news media then cited numerous Amazon employees who said they had, in fact, been left with little choice but to use plastic bottles.
Amazon has apologized for a tweet it sent to a congressman more than a week ago denying that its employees work so hard they must urinate in water bottles
The argument started last week with a tweet from Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin
And the website The Intercept said it had obtained internal documents showing Amazon executives were aware of the practice.
The workers’ testimony underlined the complaints of many Amazon employees — both in its processing facilities and among its drivers — about what they say is a relentless work pace.
‘We owe an apology to Representative Pocan,’ Amazon said in a statement late Friday.
Initially, Amazon had falsely claimed that their workers did not pee in bottles
Amazon’s apology did not satisfy Pocan, who responded Saturday on Twitter
‘The tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers,’ each of which, it said, had dozens of restrooms that employees could use ‘at any time.’
Amazon continued: ‘We know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes, and this has been especially the case during Covid when many public restrooms have been closed.’
It described the problem as ‘a long-standing, industry-wide issue,’ adding, ‘we would like to solve it.’
The apology did not satisfy Pocan, who responded Saturday on Twitter, saying:
‘Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers – who you don’t treat with enough respect or dignity.
‘Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you’ve created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone & finally, let them unionize without interference.’
Amazon admitted that some delivery drivers might have had to urinate in bottles and it vowed to improve their working conditions
Amazon wrote in its blog post that urinating in bottles is an industry-wide problem. To try and prove its point, it shared links to news articles about drivers for other delivery companies who have had to do so.
“Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it,” the company said. “We don´t yet know how, but will look for solutions.”
Amazon’s treatment of workers has been a hot topic recently as it faces the biggest union push in its history at an Alabama warehouse.
Organizers there are pushing for more break time and better pay, with many complaining about the back-breaking 10-hour workdays that include only two 30-minute breaks. The result has not yet been announced.
Amazon has successfully fended off unionization efforts elsewhere in the US, though most of its facilities in Europe are unionized.
The company insists its workers enjoy good pay and benefits by US standards.
The issue was raised after an Amazon executive that said the company was a progressive workplace
People hold placards during a protest in support of Amazon workers in Alabama where workers there are voting to unionize