CBS - Amazon apologized for disputing a lawmaker's claim that its workers urinate in bottles, admitting in a Friday blog post that it was "incorrect" to deny the report. The online retailer said the issue affects drivers, not employees in its many warehouses across the U.S.
Questions about whether Amazon workers operating under severe time constraints sometimes resort to urinating in bottles surfaced in a 2018 book by British journalist James Bloodworth, who went undercover to briefly work at an Amazon warehouse in documenting the hardship of low-wage work in the U.K. In his account, he came across what appeared like a bottle of urine hidden on a warehouse shelf, which he assumed was one worker's solution to the difficulty of squeezing in bathroom breaks at the massive facility.
Until its apology, Amazon had refuted such accounts entirely. "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us," the company's Amazon News account tweeted on March 24 in response to criticism from Rep. Mark Pocan that the online behemoth wasn't enlightened in its workplace practices just because it offered a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
Even as Amazon denied these reports, other journalists documented workers at the company who relied on bottles to relieve themselves. Last month, the Intercept disclosed internal Amazon documents that chided workers for "public urination" and "public defecation," while one worker reported receiving an email from management telling drivers to check their vans for "urine bottles" and to report such "infractions."
Can't believe people are getting so pissy about this whole situation.
Real talk, you can hate Bezos for a lot of things. Destroying small businesses. Cutting workers health benefits. Being the biggest documented micro-manager on the planet. His penchant for tearing employees to shreds publicly in front of their peers. Being stingy when it comes to charity. For paying no taxes. Requiring 60 hour work weeks. Or just his all-around ruthlessness in his workplace and against competitors.
(Fun fact- during the HQ2 circus, the geniuses running Chicago came up with this brilliant plan to sway Jeffrey.)
But you can't hate him because Amazon employees pee in empty water bottles.
That's not his fault. Men have been doing this since the beginning of time. It's one of the luxuries of being a man. We have the equipment enabling us to go just about anywhere at anytime.
The only difference between peeing behind a tree on the golf course, and peeing in your truck, is the vessel. In the first scenario, you're watering the plants. In the second, you're not exactly able to, so you need something to go in that you can throw away at a later time.
Don't sit here and try to shame me either like you're better than the millions of us who are honest with ourselves about pointless shit like this either.
I'm talking to the 56.6%ers
It's not an issue of "having the luxury" of doing so, or being too lazy. Not whatsoever. It's an issue of being productive and having integrity. Look.
But former warehouse workers say that it can be challenging to take a bathroom break, given their 15-minute breaks and the vast spaces they sometimes must traverse to reach one. Chris Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse assistant manager who was fired in March 2020 after organizing a walkout over lack of precautions to halt COVID-19 infections, said it wasn't easy to use the restroom.
Workers "are tracked down to the second," Smalls told CBS MoneyWatch, adding that the warehouse bathrooms are often a five- to 10-minute walk from a worker's station, which makes it difficult to use the restroom in a 15-minute break. If workers ran over their break time, managers would write them up, Smalls said, which could eventually lead to getting fired.
We've all heard of the GPS monitors all employees wear, and the leaderboard that shows productivity levels for each employee like they're in an Orange Theory class. So yah, if you get a 15-minute break, why would you wanna spend 10 minutes getting to the bathroom (holy shit that's a big warehouse) peeing, then walking another ten minutes back to your station? Especially when you can just go in the corner and take care of business?
I think everybody should just take a big deep breath and calm down. Did you really think Bezos would let a black eye like this on his company prevent him from turning it into an opportunity?
He's already in the process of preventing issues like this from happening in the future as he disclosed to AMZN shareholders in a letter.
He's implementing more algorithms to cut down on worker "injuries" (and unproductiveness) with plans to automate even more of the Amazon workflow.
So soon, workers will never complain about having to or even have to worry about having to pee in bottles because they'll all be robots that can work around the clock without having to pee! Problem solved.
p.s.- for the guys who can't fit in a Poland Springs or Gatorade bottle, I feel for you.
p.p.s.- Personal story. I get in this weird ocd trance when I'm concentrating on doing something. I blur everything out around me like I have blinders on. When I dj'd all the time back in the day I would get like that and in this mindset that I couldn't lose my focus no matter what. Like I was performing brain surgery or something. Really stupid. But anyway, back in the day if I was playing a 3 or 4 hour set, in a jam packed venue, and drinking like a maniac, I would use the empty water bottle trick. Real scumbag move I realize in hindsight, and I'm not proud of it, but this was my thinking at the time- if I attempted to run to the bathroom to go, I'd have to put on a 5 minute song just in case to cover me. Nobody likes hearing more than 1-2 minutes of a song anymore so that's going to totally kill this vibe plus people are gonna look up at the booth and wonder where the fuck did the dj go? Then the manager is gonna get pissed off at me, he's gonna go and tell the owners about it in the next manager's meeting, and me and my whole promotion company are going to get fired. So in my head, it seemed like the responsible thing to do. The other thing was I would do it so discreetly and always threw them out, so nobody ever knew! Until one day, I had to run from one gig to another (Chicago has places that have to close at 2, and some that can stay open til 4 (5 on Saturdays)) I left the first place and forgot to throw the bottle out. The manager (a real weenie, and not just for this) found it and went ballistic. Texted me on a text with the owners and acted like I took a dump on the floor. He was indignant. I apologized profusely, explained my thinking, and promised it would never happen again. The next week they called an all hands on deck meeting with my business partner and I, and the owners. They let us go over it. And I'll never forget the line they told me because of how it stuck with me since, they said that as much as they loved us and as great a job we did, "they considered themselves the New York Yankees" of the hospitality industry and because of that, they couldn't let things slide, ever, because that was the difference between being the Yankees and everybody else. Damn. I was bummed but I kinda respected it and learned a good lesson. From that day on, I would sprint to the bathroom, pray there wasn't a line, then sprint back. It actually caused a ton more problems than the bottles did.