Amazon apologizes for tweet in response to claims workers urinate in bottles

National News

FILE – An Amazon logo appears on an Amazon delivery van, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, file)

Amazon apologized Friday for an “incorrect” tweet from an official Twitter account that responded to a congressman’s claims that some Amazon workers are forced to urinate in bottles while working.

Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) tweeted on March 24: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”

In response, Amazon News tweeted back: “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.”

Days later, Amazon apologized for the response in a blog post, saying the reply was “incorrect” and an “own-goal.”

“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” the blog post reads.

The post goes on to say that the “tweet was incorrect” and “did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers.”

Amazon said its fulfillment centers have “dozens of restrooms, and employees are able to step away from their work station at any time.”

The response goes on to say that the “process was flawed,” as the “tweet did not receive proper scrutiny.”

Lastly, the post acknowledged that some drivers “can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes,” which has been exacerbated by COVID when “many public restrooms have been closed.”

Amazon said “this is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon,” and that it “would like to solve it.”

“We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions,” the post said.

Pocan rejected the apology Saturday.

Amazon workers are working to organize the biggest unionization push at the company since it was founded in 1995, according to the Associated Press. And it’s happening in the unlikeliest of places: Bessemer, Alabama, a state with laws that don’t favor unions. 

The stakes are high. If organizers succeed in Bessemer, where nearly 6,000 people work, it could set off a chain reaction across Amazon’s operations nationwide, with thousands more workers rising up and demanding better working conditions.

Attempts by Amazon to delay the vote in Bessemer have failed. So too have the company’s efforts to require in-person voting, which organizers argue would be unsafe during the pandemic. Mail-in voting started this week and will go on until the end of March. A majority of the valid votes received have to vote “yes” in order to unionize. 

Amazon, whose profits and revenues have skyrocketed during the pandemic, has campaigned hard to convince workers that a union will only suck money from their paycheck with little benefit, the Associated Press reports. Spokeswoman Rachael Lighty says the company already offers them what unions want: benefits, career growth and pay that starts at $15 an hour. She adds that the organizers don’t represent the majority of Amazon employees’ views.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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