Amazon pulls page from Trump’s playbook with anti-union strategy

Amazon is pulling a page out of President Donald Trump’s playbook with its recent public relations strategy as the company tries to trample an attempt by its workers to unionize.

“Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU’s director of disinformation, in an attempt to save his declining union, is taking alternative facts to a whole new level,” an Amazon representative said Friday in a statement to CNN’s Sara Ashley O’Brien. The statement O’Brien posted on Twitter said it was from Max Gleber, an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon confirmed the truth of the statement to Insider, but said it “should have been attributed to Drew Herdener, Amazon’s vice president of global communications. Feel free to use his statement in the article attributed to him.”

Its workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are in the process of voting to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Large Stores Union (RWDSU). Amazon has been described as aggressively anti-union and has highlighted benefits for workers, such as its minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.

“Alternative facts” is a phrase made famous by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway in 2017, when she told “Meet the Press” that “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.” Meanwhile, Trump is known for accusing critics of spreading “fake news.”

Amazon has been mirroring Trump’s press strategy in other ways, such as criticizing various progressive politicians on Twitter.

The company has been training with Senator Elizabeth Warren for several days.

“One of America’s most powerful politicians just said he’s going to break up an American company so they can’t criticize it anymore,” Amazon tweeted on Friday.

Warren previously responded to Amazon after she said she made the tax policies she followed, tweeting in part that she would fight “to break Big Tech so that you are not powerful enough to interrupt senators with presumptuous tweets.”

Amazon also got into a fight with Senator Bernie Sanders, culminating in Dave Clark, who serves as the CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, tweeting that Sanders should “save his speech to move his finger until after he actually delivers on his own backyard. “

Earlier in the week, Clark said in a statement to Insider: “I often say that we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that is not entirely correct because we actually offer a progressive workplace for our constituents: a minimum wage of $ 15, medical care from the day. ” one, career progression and a safe and inclusive work environment. “

In a third dispute on Twitter, Amazon took on Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan. Pocan had tweeted: “Paying workers $ 15 an hour doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you blow up unions and make workers pee in water bottles.”

“You really don’t believe in peeing in bottles, do you? If that were true, no one would work for us,” Amazon responded.

Eight Amazon drivers told Insider this week that they had urinated in bottles while delivering packages due to the company’s strict time limits. Some drivers said they had defecated in bags as well, while one said he had a hard time finding time or space to change sanitary pads while he was working.

Amazon did not respond to multiple requests for comment about workers urinating on bottles, which drivers described as common practice. The company declined to comment on its criticism of politicians on Twitter or its use of the phrase “alternative facts” in a statement beyond correcting the representative’s name.

Celine McNicholas, director of government affairs at the Economic Policy Institute, told Insider that Amazon likely denied the “pee bottle thing” in an effort to be seen as a progressive employer amid the Alabama union campaign.

“I think it’s probably the only play they have to say that this is not reality,” McNicholas said. “Because the reality is shameful and disgusting.”

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