Amazon apologized to a US Congressman after making fun of claims that its employees sometimes urinated in plastic bottles and said its reaction was an “own goal” and “wrong”.
In a tweet posted last month, Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, criticized Amazon for its anti-union efforts and records of working conditions, particularly drawing attention to employees who did not have time to find and use a bathroom.
In response, Amazon tweeted: “You don’t really think that people pee in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us. “
It sparked a number of negative reactions, and several articles disproved Amazon’s position.
Most notably, The Intercept published a story detailing internal correspondence from Amazon managers who were concerned about workers urinating and, in some cases, pooping during childbirth.
In a blog post, Amazon said its response “ignored our large driver population and instead incorrectly focused only on our fulfillment centers,” indicating that the problem was limited to the delivery driver network.
“This was an own goal,” wrote Amazon. “We are unhappy about this and we owe Representative Pocan an apology.”
The tweet said the tweet did not receive a “proper audit” internally, but claimed that the drivers’ bathroom issues were due to “traffic or sometimes rural routes,” an issue related to Covid-related closings of public toilets -19 have increased.
Amazon then listed a number of tweets and news articles related to the same issue involving companies like Uber and UPS. Uber declined to comment. A UPS spokesman could not be reached.
Amazon added, “Regardless of the fact that this is industry wide, we want to solve it. We don’t know how yet, but we will look for solutions. “
The apology comes as nearly 6,000 Amazon workers wait for the results of a union formation vote at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. The count is expected to begin early next week. If the union is successful, it will be the first time Amazon workers have gained collective bargaining power in the country.
Proponents see the union movement, which has garnered significant political support, as a potential starting point for action in the US workforce of the e-commerce giant, which grew rapidly during the pandemic and now has more than 950,000 employees.
This figure does not include the delivery drivers hired by third-party providers. This weekend, some drivers pledged to quit their jobs in protest of what they consider to be an unacceptable workload as Amazon continues to grapple with increased demand from pandemics.
“197 stops, that’s ridiculous,” said one driver in a video posted on Reddit Friday. “It is not realistic to do this in a reasonable time. How is that safe? “
He added: “This has to stop, we have to unionize. And by the way, yes, we all pee in bottles – we have to. “