Apr 3, 2021 - Technology

Amazon walks back denial, acknowledges issue of delivery drivers urinating in bottles

Picture of Amazon employee getting off an Amazon ban carrying a package
Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon has apologized to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), saying the company's recent tweet denying that drivers urinate in water bottles was "incorrect."

What they're saying: "[W]e 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," the company wrote in a blog post.

  • Amazon added the issue is not unique to the organization and that the company is looking for ways to solve it, saying that they "don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions."

Flashback: The Verge in 2018 reported that Amazon employees were forced to skip bathroom breaks to fulfill high demand for deliveries. At the time, employees said they felt pressured to meet company goals.

Context: Pocan criticized Amazon's working conditions last week, tweeting: "Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles."

  • Amazon News replied: "You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us."
  • Vice released a report the following day showing pictures of bottles and other containers filled with urine. One Amazon driver told the outlet that drivers felt pressured to complete deliveries quickly and finding restrooms could slow them down.

Amazon said its tweet to Pocan "did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers."

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