Amazon wades into another PR fiasco after claiming its workers don't urinate in bottles

midian182

Posts: 7,081   +62
Staff member
A hot potato: Amazon's workers say that peeing into water bottles is part and parcel of the job, yet the company insists it never happens. The retail giant got into a Twitter spat with Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, one of many people that took issue with an executive who labeled the firm a "progressive workplace."

The situation began with Amazon consumer chief Dave Clark trying to start an online beef with Sen. Bernie Sanders ahead of the Vermont politician's visit to its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse today. Sanders' arrival comes as the fulfillment center pushes to unionize.

"I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that's not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace", tweeted Clark. He also lauded Amazon's "safe and inclusive work environment."

Plenty of Twitter users called out Clark on his tweet, highlighting some of the complaints made against Amazon by its workers: firing pregnant women for taking too many bathroom breaks, aggressive anti-union measures, working conditions that are far from safe, and elevators used exclusively for products. Many also noted the numerous incidents of staff urinating in plastic bottles as they don't have time or aren't allowed to go to the bathroom.

Wisconsin congressman Pocan joined in. "Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a "progressive workplace" when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles," he wrote.

The Amazon News account then got involved, responding to Pocan with: "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us."

Amazon's denial opened the floodgates. Author James Bloodworth, who worked undercover at the company, tweeted: "I was the person who found the pee in the bottle. Trust me, it happened." He also cited a survey of UK-based Amazon warehouse workers that found 74% were afraid to go to the bathroom during a shift out of fear of missing productivity targets.

Elsewhere, Business Insider spoke to five current and former Amazon employees who said peeing in bottles was part of the job due to the strict time constraints placed on drivers and contract workers.

"They keep track of your movements — how many times you stop, how fast you drive," Enrique Sanchez, who worked as a driver for eight months in 2020, told the publication. "Using the restroom in the van is the only option sometimes."

Amazon is used to dealing with PR disasters and bad publicity at this point—the current fiasco comes soon after reports of its delivery workers being forced to agree to AI surveillance or risk losing their jobs. But with its net income jumping from $11.6 billion in 2019 to $21.33 billion last year, the all-important bottom line isn't being affected.

Permalink to story.

 

MisterSpock

Posts: 12   +24
Humans aren't machines. We require much more constant maintenance and resting periods between uptimes compared to the AI that fires them with comparatively little to no operational cost in terms of energy usage and CPU cycles.

Workers of Amazon, Unite. Until then, the corporation doesn't care one iota about you, and will happily replace any machines (sorry, *humans*) that aren't willing to provide superhuman level service while forgoing required maintenance and downtime.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,767
Remember when a bunch of politicians got hit with milkshakes for a while? We need Amazon drivers to hit Jeff Bezos with urine coffee cups.

Also like MisterSpock said above, an Amazon Union to claw back what should be fundamental working conditions and compensations from the hands of either the first or second most rich person in the planet depends on when you read this.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,031   +1,524
TechSpot Elite
I'm curious as to if these claims are the norm, or are the exception. In an imperfect world, statistically at every large operation you will have instances like this... The actual question is, is the corporate culture enabling and allowing this on a consistent basis, or was this bottle of urine that was found a unique circumstance that I can't seem to find any details of?

I'm all for punishing Amazon if they are acting in malice and treating their employees like dogs. Some objective evidence and proof of consistency is required before I throw my hat in the ring though.

The media and particularly politicians who like getting reelected very much enjoy hopping on the bandwagon before any real facts are known.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
"Amazon is used to dealing with PR disasters and bad publicity at this point—the current fiasco comes soon after reports of its delivery workers being forced to agree to AI surveillance or risk losing their jobs. But with its net income jumping from $11.6 billion in 2019 to $21.33 billion last year, the all-important bottom line isn't being affected."
- This is why I said in another thread about Amazon that people should tell Amazon and Wal-Mart to go pound sand and use Costco as their main source of whatever they use the other two for. Anyone who knows how Amazon treats its employees and still uses it as a main source for things should be ashamed of themselves. If they don't have a problem with it, they're most likely a closet-sociopath. Of course, this doesn't apply to people who are using Amazon because of the pandemic.

As for Dave Clark, do the Techspot Terms Of Service still apply when trying to describe him? If they do, I can only say that he's a lying sociopath.

I'll stick with Costco, Amazon's (mis)management team can go deep-throat a rhinoceros. Amazon is no better than Intel or nVidia.
 
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RagePizza

Posts: 10   +34
Had to make an account just for this article.

I previously worked at Amazon for three years in the UK and I absolutely can confirm that peeing in bottles is a thing that happens. When I was working there it was not a common occurrence by any means but it 100% did happen on multiple occasions with bottles of pee being left in hidden locations or even just at the end of aisles! And I'm just referring to pee as I have seen, again on multiple occasions, poop in item locations too (empty locations).

I never had concrete proof of who did the peeing or why but the rates that Amazon hold you by ARE strict and going to the toilet can and will ruin any chance of you achieving said rate and thus putting you in the firing line of your managers - that's a fact. For them to flat out deny this occurs is either a 100% blatant lie or (more likely) the people posting those denial responses do not or have never worked on the shop floor as a picker (in particular) in one of their warehouses.

Everything that you read or hear that is negative about Amazon is correct and you only ever understand the extent of that correctness when you have worked there and left for a better job who treat you more as a human than a machine.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
Had to make an account just for this article.
Well, welcome aboard and I love the name you chose! :laughing:
I previously worked at Amazon for three years in the UK and I absolutely can confirm that peeing in bottles is a thing that happens. When I was working there it was not a common occurrence by any means but it 100% did happen on multiple occasions with bottles of pee being left in hidden locations or even just at the end of aisles! And I'm just referring to pee as I have seen, again on multiple occasions, poop in item locations too (empty locations).

I never had concrete proof of who did the peeing or why but the rates that Amazon hold you by ARE strict and going to the toilet can and will ruin any chance of you achieving said rate and thus putting you in the firing line of your managers - that's a fact. For them to flat out deny this occurs is either a 100% blatant lie or (more likely) the people posting those denial responses do not or have never worked on the shop floor as a picker (in particular) in one of their warehouses.

Everything that you read or hear that is negative about Amazon is correct and you only ever understand the extent of that correctness when you have worked there and left for a better job who treat you more as a human than a machine.
I'm honestly shocked that the normally sturdy UK labour laws allowed Amazon to do this. Here in Canada, one Amazon warehouse had such a high rate of Sars-CoV-2 that the Ontario Provincial Government forced them to shut it down. Amazon swore that they'd appeal it like they were on some kind of oath-given chivalric quest.

I'm very interested to see how many people stop using Amazon once the pandemic is over.
 
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RagePizza

Posts: 10   +34
I'm honestly shocked that the normally sturdy UK labour laws allowed Amazon to do this. Here in Canada, one Amazon warehouse had such a high rate of Sars-CoV-2 that the Ontario Provincial Government forced them to shut it down. Amazon swore that they'd appeal it like they were on some kind of oath-given chivalric quest.

I'm very interested to see how many people stop using Amazon once the pandemic is over.
The reason this stuff happens at Amazon sites is all down to lacking a proper independent Union to represent staff. Amazon can literally do whatever they want in pursuit of keeping up with customer demand that the welfare of their staff is a secondary thought until they get in trouble for it.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
The reason this stuff happens at Amazon sites is all down to lacking a proper independent Union to represent staff. Amazon can literally do whatever they want in pursuit of keeping up with customer demand that the welfare of their staff is a secondary thought until they get in trouble for it.
Well then the UK government should get off of their collective arses and investigate the Amazon operations with a big sting operation. This would put an immediate stop to these violations. As a side benefit, the amount of money that they'd get from Amazon through fines is probably nothing short of astronomical.

As for the union, I believe that ALL workers should be unionised.
 
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Puiu

Posts: 4,865   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
Well then the UK government should get off of their collective arses and investigate the Amazon operations with a big sting operation. This would put an immediate stop to these violations. As a side benefit, the amount of money that they'd get from Amazon through fines is probably nothing short of astronomical.
The money they get from just Amazon being there is more important to them than just an one time payment.
 

McKocoa

Posts: 32   +47
Deleted my Amazon account because it's harming other small and local businesses, they're not treating their workers fairly, not paying their fair share, and I don't want to live in an 'Prime' controlled world. Put your money where your mouth is. Support local supply chains and businesses first, before they're entirely gone.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
The money they get from just Amazon being there is more important to them than just an one time payment.
Well, I hope that the people of the UK have learnt an important lesson about electing prats like Boris Johnson and Conservatives (I STILL can't believe that they chose Johnson over Corbyn). My guess is that this only happened because the left vote was split between three parties, those being of course Labour, Scottish National and Sinn Féin.

Here in Canada, we have three provinces in which the Conservatives tend to get seats. They generally dominate in Alberta (Cowboys) and Saskatchewan (Hayseeds) plus a minority of Ontario. In the other seven provinces (plus most of Ontario) and three territories, we generally do what we call "Using our ABC's" when we vote:
Anyone
But
Conservatives


If and when Labour gets back in power, hopefully they'll fix this problem.
 
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Irata

Posts: 1,675   +2,811
I'm very interested to see how many people stop using Amazon once the pandemic is over.
Honestly ? Close to none, sadly.

Admittedly I use Amazon, as well, but mostly for items I have a hard time reasonably getting somewhere else. And Amazon music - won an Echo at a tombola and it‘s actually pretty nice.

 

Irata

Posts: 1,675   +2,811
Well, I hope that the people of the UK have learnt an important lesson about electing prats like Boris Johnson and Conservatives (I STILL can't believe that they chose Johnson over Corbyn). My guess is that this only happened because the left vote was split between three parties, those being of course Labour, Scottish National and Sinn Féin.

Here in Canada, we have three provinces in which the Conservatives tend to get seats which are Alberta, Saskatchewan (where they dominate) and some parts of Ontario. In the other seven provinces (plus most of Ontario) and three territories, we generally do what we call "Using our ABC's" when we vote:
Anyone
But
Conservatives


If and when Labour gets back in power, hopefully they'll fix this problem.
You think so ? I mean, they banned Parler, so they must be the good guys in the Woke verse. What‘s a China inspired work culture in light of these much more important things.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
Honestly ? Close to none, sadly.

Admittedly I use Amazon, as well, but mostly for items I have a hard time reasonably getting somewhere else. And Amazon music - won an Echo at a tombola and it‘s actually pretty nice.
Sure, for stuff that's hard to find elsewhere, Amazon is fine. I'm talking about the people who order, like, everything from Amazon. People like you who just use their music service and order the odd thing from them are not the people who give them the insane amount of power that they have. If everyone was like you, this mess wouldn't exist.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,727   +2,046
TechSpot Elite
You think so ? I mean, they banned Parler, so they must be the good guys in the Woke verse. What‘s a China inspired work culture in light of these much more important things.
Yes, they did ban parler but that's not a big thing to do in the UK. There is no "freedom of speech" per se in countries that aren't the USA. Hate speech and speech that does harm to society are not tolerated in the Commonwealth.

The American idea of "free speech" is not universal, quite the contrary. In fact, all the other NATO countries think it's crazy because the USA has gone totally overboard with it. In Canada for example, we have free speech but only to a point. We can't deliberately lie (Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani would have already been jailed if they pulled their crap in Canada) nor can we engage in verbal assaults that use terms to discriminate against anything other than a person's personality. The only derogatory terms we use that are gendered are the "B-words" (which have been in use for so long that they're tolerated). I could, for instance call you a son-of-a-"gun" but not a black/red/brown/yellow son-of-a-"gun". If I were to say the latter, I'd be in violation of Canadian law. Not so in the USA.

Essentially, the idea is that someone being a prick has nothing to do with skin colour and anyone of any colour is perfectly capable of being a terrible human being. I think that it makes perfect sense.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 6,393   +4,725
IMO, Bezos should work as a warehouse worker or delivery worker under the explicit conditions that are required from these workers. Perhaps he would then get an idea of what it is like for those workers that are the backbone of the company, and hold him and his billions up every day. Without those workers, Bezos would not have gotten as wealthy as he is.

Stories like these seem to support why the delivery workers rarely ring my doorbell after leaving a package at my door as I have asked them to in "delivery instructions."

Yes, they did ban parler but that's not a big thing to do in the UK. There is no "freedom of speech" per se in countries that aren't the USA. Hate speech and speech that does harm to society are not tolerated in the Commonwealth.

The American idea of "free speech" is not universal, quite the contrary. In fact, all the other NATO countries think it's crazy because the USA has gone totally overboard with it. In Canada for example, we have free speech but only to a point. We can't deliberately lie (Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani would have already been jailed if they pulled their crap in Canada) nor can we engage in verbal assaults that use terms to discriminate against anything other than a person's personality. The only derogatory terms we use that are gendered are the "B-words" (which have been in use for so long that they're tolerated). I could, for instance call you a son-of-a-"gun" but not a black/red/brown/yellow son-of-a-"gun". If I were to say the latter, I'd be in violation of Canadian law. Not so in the USA.

Essentially, the idea is that someone being a prick has nothing to do with skin colour and anyone of any colour is perfectly capable of being a terrible human being. I think that it makes perfect sense.
There are limits to free speech the in US; however, to me, it seems that most of the people that clamour about free speech rights in the US seem to think that those limits do not exist, and free speech to them is anything they think should be free speech, but not anything they do not think should be free speech. Honestly, I am right there with you as explaining to my fellow US citizens that there are Supreme Court imposed limits on free speech is like talking to a brick wall and expecting it to respond. :rolleyes:
 

Austinturner

Posts: 277   +325
Unionise, walk off the job and picket the gates until the required work rates are achievable without peeing in bottles.

And if you’re a consumer, cancel prime and just shop online from all the small and specialised businesses who also sell what you want.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,832   +2,181
To hear these stories, you would think they were coming out of communist China, not the "western world".
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 551   +439
Unionise, walk off the job and picket the gates until the required work rates are achievable without peeing in bottles.

And if you’re a consumer, cancel prime and just shop online from all the small and specialised businesses who also sell what you want.

Hahahahha

Not likely
Too many small shops already have malware to steal payment info

I'd like to keep what I can
 

drjekelmrhyde

Posts: 380   +136
A Amazon driver do 250-300 packages in the same amount of time a FedEx driver do about 90 packages, a UPS driver do about 100................Let that sink in. They are getting hit double or triple the amount as a driver from both major package service drivers combined.
 

rmcrys

Posts: 56   +62
I'm curious as to if these claims are the norm, or are the exception. In an imperfect world, statistically at every large operation you will have instances like this... The actual question is, is the corporate culture enabling and allowing this on a consistent basis, or was this bottle of urine that was found a unique circumstance that I can't seem to find any details of?

I'm all for punishing Amazon if they are acting in malice and treating their employees like dogs. Some objective evidence and proof of consistency is required before I throw my hat in the ring though.

The media and particularly politicians who like getting reelected very much enjoy hopping on the bandwagon before any real facts are known.

It largely depends on what country you are, in Europe most western countries have very strict laws about that, nevertheless here people notice that family and human rights are getting meaningless against corporate interests. My parents worked both but they were from a time where only one person needed to work, earned very decently and almost everyone could afford a house, even before their thirties;

Today a family in Europe must live to work, both and even so you can only afford to rent or buy a small apartment; the unemployment rate passed in the last 50 years from almost none to 7% up to almost 25% (Spain for example!) and a lot of people in their thirties still live with parents.

Why? Mostly because a lot that was built or made in Europe is now made in China, factories closed and despite China gave us a pandemic, from masks to medical devices still are made and ordered from there, despite the economy simply is at a deep low. People don't do nothing, sadly...
 

paul1122

Posts: 154   +143
A Amazon driver do 250-300 packages in the same amount of time a FedEx driver do about 90 packages, a UPS driver do about 100................Let that sink in. They are getting hit double or triple the amount as a driver from both major package service drivers combined.
You do have to consider the density of the route, but I think you have a valid point.