Late last month, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) took a swipe at Amazon.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” he wrote on Twitter on March 24.
Amazon fired back, saying Pocan was suckered in. “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,” the mega-corp responded on Twitter.
“We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do,” Amazon wrote to the lawmaker.
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
But on Friday, Amazon did a U-turn — and eventually acknowledged that workers do in fact pee in bottles in order to meet deadlines — if in a roundabout way.
“On Wednesday last week, the @amazonnews Twitter account tweeted the following back to Representative Mark Pocan,” Amazon wrote in a post on its corporate news website.
This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan.
First, the tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers. A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of restrooms, and employees are able to step away from their work station at any time. If any employee in a fulfillment center has a different experience, we encourage them to speak to their manager and we’ll work to fix it.
Second, our process was flawed. The tweet did not receive proper scrutiny. We need to hold ourselves to an extremely high accuracy bar at all times, and that is especially so when we are criticizing the comments of others.
Third, 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.
This is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon. We’ve included just a few links below that discuss the issue.
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.
We will continue to speak out when misrepresented, but we will also work hard to always be accurate.
We apologize to Representative Pocan.
But Pocan wasn’t swayed by the apology, writing Saturday on Twitter: “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,” he wrote.
Workers at Amazon’s huge processing facility in Bessemer, Alabama, have voted on whether to unionize, which Amazon has fiercely opposed. The outcome of the vote has not yet been announced.