Amazon has apologized for denying that some employees are forced to pee in bottles during their shifts, and has acknowledged that it’s actually a problem for many delivery drivers.
Earlier this week, the technology and online retail giant posted a tweet mocking Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan for criticizing Amazon working conditions, including reports that many drivers cannot find bathrooms and are forced to pee in bottles to keep up with delivery schedules.
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?” the company wrote in a snarky tweet. “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 tweet quickly garnered intense criticism from many observers, who pointed out that there were plenty of first-person accounts of Amazon employees not having time to use the restroom, and being forced to improvise while on the job.
In a statement late Friday, the company backtracked and apologized to Pocan.
“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” the statement said, adding that the tweet “did not receive proper scrutiny” before the company’s official account shared it. Further, the tech giant acknowledged that many drivers for the company do indeed struggle to find bathrooms while delivering packages.
“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,” a spokesperson wrote in a brief statement. “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.”
Amazon’s embarrassing viral tweet came amid the company’s attempt to stop a unionization effort by a group of workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama who are advocating for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
The effort has received praise from a number of high-profile politicians, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Amazon has resisted the effort, saying the company offers competitive pay and benefits. They have hired a prominent law firm to help quash the unionization drive.
In a statement on Saturday, Pocan brushed off the company's apology, and called on Amazon to recognize the employee union.
“Sigh. This is not about me, this is about your workers—who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity,” he wrote.