Amazon pissed off its online critics Wednesday when it snidely dismissed reports that its warehouse workers have to use bottles as bathrooms.
The e-commerce colossus sparked an online firestorm with its snarky response to a congressman who cited the three-year-old allegations as evidence that Amazon treats workers poorly.
After Amazon executive Dave Clark claimed his employer runs a “progressive workplace,” Rep. Mark Pocan tweeted that the company couldn’t claim that title “when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles” — referring to reports from 2018 about warehouse staff skipping bathroom breaks to meet the company’s cutthroat productivity demands.
But the official Amazon News Twitter account took umbrage to the Wisconsin Democrat’s post, quickly clapping back.
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” Amazon tweeted late Wednesday. “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.”
Commenters quickly slammed the glib post, which racked up more than 8,000 responses by Thursday morning as “Amazon News” became a trending topic on Twitter.
One response came from James Bloodworth, a journalist who was one of the first to report that Amazon workers pee in bottles on the job. He wrote in 2018 that he “found a Coca-Cola bottle containing urine sitting incongruently on a warehouse shelf” while working undercover in a British Amazon facility as research for a book.
“I was the person who found the pee in the bottle. Trust me, it happened,” Bloodworth tweeted Thursday.
BuzzFeed News reporter Ken Bensinger shared photos of documents from a former Amazon contractor in California urging delivery drivers to clean out their vans at the end of their routes. “This includes garbage, bags, and urine bottles,” the documents read.
Other critics suggested Amazon’s response resembled something the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory might say before the infamous 1911 fire there that killed 146 workers.
“You don’t really believe that people burn to death in textile factories, do you? If that were true then no one would work for The Triangle Waist Company!” Dan Olson tweeted.
The criticism came as Amazon tried to fight a unionization campaign at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama that’s won support from President Biden. The warehouse’s 6,000 workers are reportedly expected to finish voting on whether to unionize by Monday.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.