In March 2021, just before what would become a failed union vote at their Bessemer, AL warehouse, Amazon faced criticism for a tweet denying that its automated labor tracking practices were forcing its employees to urinate in bottles, or avoid using the bathroom at all, for fear of not reaching minimum expectations. The company later apologized—but not to its laborers. Rather, the apology was directed solely to Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), to whom Amazon was initially responding on social media.
Amazon is no stranger to controversy over its labor practices. The company is also known for squashing unionization drives and firing employee organizers. And as Jeff Bezos’ personal wealth increased by over $80 billion during the course of COVID-19, Amazon workers saw little effort made to address the risks involved in working through a global pandemic. While the company has recently touted its adoption of a $15 minimum wage, it remains to be seen if they will acknowledge or address the pervasive criticism that has followed its treatment of its employees for years.