Amazon is testing a new tactic in its never-ending public relations battle against stories of its grueling and exploitative working conditions: outright denial. It does not work.
When responding to a cheep from Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) complaining about the company’s anti-union tactics and the fact that some of its workers are forced to “urinate in water bottles,” Amazon’s official Twitter account answered: “You really don’t believe in peeing in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us. “
But people believe these stories and for a very simple reason: there are numerous accounts of what happened, documented by employees and journalists around the world.
In fact, after Amazon sent its misjudged tweet, reporters covering the company’s labor practices practically lined up to drench the firm with evidence. Among them was the English journalist James Bloodworth, whose 2018 book Hired: Six months undercover in low-wage Britain documented his experience of low-paying work for companies like Amazon:
Bloodworth’s book spawned some of the most shared stories about Amazon workers being forced to pee in bottles to save time while meeting company goals, but it is not the only one documenting this exact example of poor conditions. labor.
Here’s Will Evans from The Center for Investigative Reporting:
And Lauren Kaori Gurley from Motherboard. (Gurley also wrote a story with photographic evidence, including numerous examples from the subreddit for Amazon delivery drivers.)
And Ken Bensinger from BuzzFeed News:
And Alex Press from Jacobean, who shares a much grimmer anecdote from an Amazon worker who suffered a seizure at one of the company’s facilities:
In fact, while Amazon is trying to disprove the “pissing in bottles” stories that have become shorthand for the company’s poor working conditions, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Other evidence includes the high injury rates in Amazon warehouses (7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees); employees dying from COVID-19 after complaints that the company was not doing enough to mitigate the risks of the virus; widespread union repression; production targets that treat humans like robots; and gruesome anecdotes like the story of the Amazon worker who died of a heart attack and who, according to his colleagues, stayed on the work floor for 20 minutes before receiving treatment.
Amazon denied this latest story, of course, saying it responded to the man’s collapse “in minutes.” But Amazon has shown its willingness to edit reality. And if the company is happy to suggest that its workers never pee in bottles despite the fact that many accounts say otherwise, it is difficult to take the “truth” of the company seriously.