Amazon was recently forced to issue a public apology after the commerce giant lied to a Congressman in the form of a snarky Tweet.
Specifically, the company falsely denied Wisconsin Democratic Representative Mark Pocan's claim that, among other problematic working conditions, Amazon employees often cannot find bathrooms and are forced to pee in bottles in order to maintain Amazon's strenuous delivery schedules and avoid being fired for not keeping up (there's evidently no magic wand to make two-day shipping happen).
Amazon responded to Pocan's charge with some condescending denial.
@repmarkpocan 1/2 You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would wor… https://t.co/gDke8HPsPI— Amazon News (@Amazon News)1616639354.0
But Amazon's snide tweet only brought more criticism raining down upon the company.
Really, that tweet was like a conch shell that called multiple investigative reporters to share direct evidence that, yes, workers definitely urinate in bottles on the job at Amazon.
Look at the stat and consider the context https://t.co/9bSy3Jv7hC https://t.co/DLlxdb7DV3— James Bloodworth (@James Bloodworth)1616662141.0
Peeing at Amazon - or not being able to - is an actual thing. Here's what workers told me. https://t.co/D0lp4pdQ5D… https://t.co/rMUCzaxyDt— Will Evans (@Will Evans)1616650212.0
Amazon claims its workers don't pee in bottles; defenders say it's an urban legend. But these photos sent to me by… https://t.co/2bwbbeOzHD— Ken Bensinger (@Ken Bensinger)1616653232.0
As a labor reporter who covers Amazon extensively...I can say Amazon delivery drivers not having a time or place to… https://t.co/ptbmGowUq9— Lauren Kaori Gurley (@Lauren Kaori Gurley)1616641480.0
Gurley, who posted that last tweet, even wrote a full report for Vice that included photographs of the very pee bottles in question.
All that evidence coming back to the surface clearly left Amazon a little spooked about its misguided denial of blatant fact.
So the company published the following blog post, in which they apologized to Representative Pocan, weaving a very careful apology that included just about no admittance of guilt.
Instead, Amazon minimized peeing in bottles as just something every distribution employee at any company must do all the time.
"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."
In addition, as The Verge noted, Amazon's claim only the company's drivers have been forced to pee in bottles is also untrue.
A 2018 study by Organise, a UK workers' rights platform, found 74% of workers avoid using the bathroom for fear of missing efficiency targets.
Representative Pocan himself was also totally not impressed by Amazon's attempt to apologize. He pointed out the fact that the company apologized to him, and not the people who are actually out there peeing in bottles.
Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers—who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity. Start… https://t.co/7nYnBljLNg— Rep. Mark Pocan (@Rep. Mark Pocan)1617452749.0
Amazon's PR misstep, and admission, drove a wave of outrage and humorous jabs.
Amazon’s apology to @repmarkpocan ends with a list of news stories about other companies whose workers have to pee… https://t.co/iii42Vwkzt— Dave Jamieson (@Dave Jamieson)1617457862.0
I just really feel like there's a happy medium between "I get stuff I order in 2 days" and "Amazon workers have to… https://t.co/JJCr2PEpnw— Donny Lowrider (@Donny Lowrider)1617137823.0
If I were an Amazon worker I would simply store my pee bottles up and then throw them at my boss one day when I'd had enough— Sky (@Sky)1617487394.0
People in Indy rock bands who have had to pee in bottles in a tour van should be a shoe-in for jobs at Amazon.— Justin Staggs Ⓥ (@Justin Staggs Ⓥ)1617472821.0
EVERYONE: Stop making your employees pee in bottles. AMAZON: haha we don’tttttt EVERYONE: So, where do they pee?… https://t.co/aB4dYlPVJ9— (This part is superfluous.) (@(This part is superfluous.))1617490784.0
We never HAVE to pee in bottles. That’s absurd! Mr Bezos gives us the option to wear diapers. This slander is ridiculous!— Vonté, Unite the Workers (@Vonté, Unite the Workers)1617050343.0
Hopefully, enough widespread backlash and criticism will actually allow Amazon employees to use the bathroom like most people are allowed to on a daily basis.