Amazon rebutted a lawmaker who claimed that Amazon workers have had to urinate into water bottles to save time while on the job.
“Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles,” said Rep. Mark Pocan in a Wednesday evening tweet.
Amazon shot back at the Wisconsin Democrat soon after.
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” Amazon News responded. “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.”
“We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do,” it added shortly after, in an apparent reference to the push by some on the Left to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, a policy which Amazon independently enacted.
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
The accusations of workers relieving themselves into water bottles were first raised in 2018 after journalist James Bloodworth went undercover at an Amazon warehouse facility in England. He said that workers there were forced to use the bottles in order to save time.
“People just peed in bottles because they lived in fear of being disciplined over ‘idle time’ and losing their jobs just because they needed the loo,” he told the Sun.
Amazon denied Bloodworth’s claims at the time and said all of its employees have easy access to toilet facilities.
The Twitter exchange comes as Amazon faces a union battle in Alabama, where nearly 9,000 employees at a facility in Bessemer are in the midst of a seven-week mail-in vote on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has led the charge against the company and will meet with workers at the Bessemer facility on Friday.
Last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is worth $182 billion, turned down an invitation to attend a hearing about wealth inequality before the Senate Budget Committee. Instead, one of Bezos’s employees at the Alabama warehouse testified that the company treats its employees like “another machine.”
“Amazon brags it pays workers above the minimum wage; what they don’t tell you is what those jobs are really like,” Bessemer employee Jennifer Bates told lawmakers. “And they certainly don’t tell you that they can afford to do much better for the workers. Working at Amazon [warehouses] is no easy thing. The shifts are long, the pace is super-fast, you’re constantly being watched and monitored.”
The Bessemer employees push to unionize has faced pushback from Amazon, which discouraged unionization by sending messages to workers’ phones and posting anti-union fliers around warehouse facilities, including inside the bathrooms, Bates testified.
Amazon fears that if the Bessemer facility votes to unionize, it could spark a ripple effect, and more warehouses might decide to push for unionization. A spokesperson for Amazon told the Washington Examiner last week that “more than 90% of her fulfillment center colleagues who say they’d recommend Amazon as a great place to work to friends and family.”
Another Twitter exchange about the matter also captured media scrutiny on Thursday. Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, sarcastically commented on Sanders’s planned visit to Alabama.
“I welcome [Sanders] to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” he said, later pointing out that in Sanders’s own state, the minimum wage is only $11.75.
The Washington Examiner contacted Amazon on Thursday about the tweets and water bottle claims but did not immediately receive a response.
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