Amazon doesn't issue very many apologies, notes veteran tech reporter John Cook of GeekWire. But it made an exception Friday night in a blog post after a hubbub about peeing in bottles. The controversy began when Rep. Marc Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, fired off a tweet last month critical of the company: "Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a 'progressive workplace' when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles," he wrote. To which Amazon quickly replied, “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.” The exchange set off a lively social media debate, and Amazon on Friday walked back its initial response. Among other things, it acknowledged that some of its drivers do, in fact, have to resort to urinating in bottles.
“This was an own goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” reads the blog post. The company explained that its initial tweet referred to workers in its fulfillment centers, adding that they have restrooms available, per Reuters. Drivers are a different matter. "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," the company says. It adds that the problem affects drivers at many companies, not just Amazon. Meanwhile, Amazon workers in Alabama have finished voting on whether to unionize, but it will likely take days before results are known, per the AP. (The company took flak from GOP senators for banning a controversial book on transgender issues.)