Amazon started the holiday weekend with a slight step backwards in a social media offensive that played out in the dwindling days of a historic union vote. The earlier comments reportedly came in as Jeff Bezos pushed for a more aggressive strategy.
In addition to taking on Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Amazon News’ Twitter account went head-to-toe with Congressman Mark Pocan. The Wisconsin Democrat often cited reported stories of Amazon workers urinating in bottles in response to comments from Consumer CEO Dave Clark.
“You don’t really believe how to pee in bottles, do you?” the account asked. “If that were true, no one would work for us. The truth is, we have over a million incredible employees worldwide who take pride in what they do and have excellent wages and healthcare from day one. “
1/2 You don’t really believe how to pee in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us. The truth is we have over a million incredible employees around the world who take pride in what they do and have excellent wages and healthcare from day one.
– Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
The Congressman’s first response was pithy and to the point: “[Y]I believe your workers. Don’t you? “
Subsequent reports have helped cement these stories. One called the urination problem “widespread” among Amazon drivers, adding that defecation has also reportedly become a problem. Last night the company offered some sort of mea culpa and said, “Guilt[s] an apology to Representative Pocan. “
From there it breaks a bit. Amazon’s apology recognizes that workers peeing in bottles are one thing, but seems to imply that they are limited to drivers rather than the fulfillment center staff who are at the heart of this large-scale union work. From there, the company adds that drivers peeing in bottles are an “industry-wide problem and not specific to Amazon.”
The company has a list of links and tweets that at least constitute an indictment of the gig economy and the treatment of workers in general. Essentially, Amazon admits to being part of the problem as it works to spread the blame on an admittedly flawed system.
Reports of workers urinating in bottles also go beyond drivers, including stories of warehouse workers resorting to the law to maintain strict quotas.
“A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of toilets, and employees can step back from their jobs at any time,” writes the company in the post, which is attributed to anonymous Amazon employees. “If an employee at a fulfillment center has a different experience, we encourage them to speak to their manager and we will work to fix it.”
The union vote count for the company’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama began last week. The results could have far-reaching implications for Amazon and the industry as a whole.