The apology came amid a wave of public criticism of Amazon’s work practices and anti-union efforts last week. Approximately 5,800 Amazon warehouse employees in Bessemer, Alabama, are awaiting the outcome of a union election to press for better working conditions, scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Democrat Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin received an apology from Amazon on Friday after the company mocked his accusation that the company’s drivers are often forced to urinate in bottles during delivery rounds due to the demands of the job and delivery time constraints.
“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,” the company wrote in a corporate blog post. “Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it. We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions.”
The tech-giant, however, emphasized in the statement that the problem it had just admitted to “is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon.”
“We apologize to Representative Pocan,” the company specifically referred to the lawmaker in its statement.
In addition, the company attached several tweets from users supporting Amazon to a blog post.
Pocan is one of the lawmakers who support the landmark unionization effort, criticized by Amazon, which has previously been in denial regarding the issue with the basic human urge while on the road.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” Pocan wrote in the tweet that sparked the discussion on March 24.
Amazon was quick to respond, noting that if such accusations were true, “no one would work for us.”
1/2 You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
”We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do,” the company fired back at Pocan.
That conversation prompted a torrent of criticisms, as well as a report describing how Amazon executives often raised concerns about staff urinating while on delivery during meetings, policy papers, and emails.
Also, Two 15 minute brakes and a 30 minute lunch isn’t a whole lot of time for people who actually bust their ass for the company when the company doesn’t give two shits about their employees. Just MYO. pic.twitter.com/dY0rMjNhoW
— KT (@KoltonM970) March 26, 2021
“You don’t really believe in the peeing in bottles thing, do you?”
Believe it? Every other delivery van I got assigned had one like it was complimentary, so why believe when you lived it baybeeee pic.twitter.com/G8LYnnvlS0
— Duderony (@Duderony2) March 26, 2021
“nobody would work for us”
People worked in coal mines
People worked in the factories of the industrial revolution
People now work for you.
It’s almost as if people in poverty don’t get much a choice and can only take what they can get
— HIRE BLACK WRITERS (@Mahixk) March 27, 2021
I work for amazon and I can tell you for a fact that this is true at least in southern california it is, 80% if not all of us drivers have a 25 to 30 package an hour quota to meet, I stopped to use the restroom for 10 min and was called because i fell behind Bottles save us
— Rocky Chavez (@RockPlaysGames) March 28, 2021
Amazon also called its tweet an “own-goal” because it overlooked the company’s large driver population in favor of concentrating on its fulfillment centers. The tweet also didn’t “receive proper scrutiny” and was wrong, according to the company.