Amazon drivers begin their delivery routes as employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York prepare to quit their jobs and demand increased protection and pay after COVID-19 among multiple employees at the facility was diagnosed.
Paul Hennessy | Barcroft Media | Getty Images
Amazon apologized to Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis. On Friday after making fun of his claim that the company’s drivers are sometimes forced to urinate in bottles during delivery rounds due to the requirements of the job.
“We know that drivers can struggle to find toilets due to traffic or sometimes rural trails, and this was particularly the case in Covid when many public toilets were closed,” the company wrote in a blog post.
The apology came after Democratic lawmakers last month condemned Amazon’s working conditions and anti-union efforts. Approximately 5,800 employees at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama are waiting for an upcoming union vote, due to begin Tuesday. Amazon has resisted historic union efforts, while Pocan is among the lawmakers who back it.
“If you pay workers $ 15 an hour, you will not become a ‘progressive workplace’ if you break up union and urinate workers in water bottles,” Pocan wrote in the March 24 tweet that sparked the controversy.
Amazon responded via tweet, “You don’t really believe that you 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 that we count on are proud of what they do and have good wages and health care from day one. “
This exchange sparked a number of criticisms and a story from the Intercept, which set out how Amazon managers often raised concerns about worker urination during delivery during meetings and in policy documents and emails.
Amazon dubbed its tweet on Friday an “own goal” as it fails to take into account the company’s large driver population and instead focuses on its fulfillment centers. The company also said the tweet had not been “properly checked” and was false, admitting that drivers are struggling to find toilets.
“Regardless of the fact that this is industry wide, we want to solve it,” the company said. “We don’t know how yet, but we will look for solutions.”
SEE: The vote count begins in Amazon’s potential month-long union struggle