Parcels are stored in a truck in a logistics centre of the mail order company Amazon.
Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Amazon issued an apology Friday to a US lawmaker for a tweet it made last week.
  • In the tweet, Amazon denied its workers pee in bottles, despite it being a well-known occurrence.
  • Amazon said their tweet was inaccurate and that delivery drivers do pee in bottles sometimes.
  • See more stories on Business Insider SA's home page.

Amazon apologised Friday for a snide tweet it sent last week denying the well-documented occurrence of its delivery drivers peeing in bottles while on the job.

The tweet was a response to US lawmaker Mark Pocan of California, who first said: "Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a 'progressive workplace' when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles."

Amazon replied: "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us."

But in an apology posted to the Amazon News site, Amazon acknowledged their tweet was "incorrect."

"This was an own-goal, we're unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan," the post said.

Amazon said the tweet "did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers," adding that their fulfilment centres have "dozens" of bathrooms and employees are free to use them "any time."

It also said drivers have trouble finding restrooms due to traffic and being on rural routes, and that the issue has been exacerbated by closed public bathrooms during the pandemic.

In 2018, Insider's Hayley Peterson reported accounts of Amazon drivers urinating in bottles. Current and former drivers recently told Insider it was part of the job because "you just didn't really have time to go to the bathroom."

In the apology, Amazon said it was a "long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon," but that the company will look for ways to solve it. The post also included many tweets of people saying delivery drivers who work for companies other than Amazon also pee in bottles while on the job.

Amazon's tweet denying workers peed in bottles came days before an important unionisation vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, and the apology and acknowledgment come days after the vote already occurred. The results of the vote, which took place Monday, may not be known for days or weeks.

The combative tweet was one of several sent by Amazon accounts ahead of the union vote.

"I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that's not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace," said Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer unit, in response to US Senator Bernie Sanders' plans to meet with the workers in Alabama.

The Amazon News account also lashed out at Senator Elizabeth Warren in a tweet after she accused the company of exploiting loopholes to pay low taxes.

"You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them," the tweet said. "If you don't like the laws you've created, by all means, change them."

Vox reported the aggressive public-relations strategy was a result of CEO Jeff Bezos telling executives to "fight back" against critics.

The apology on Friday said the company "will continue to speak out when misrepresented, but we will also work hard to always be accurate."

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.