Amazon Denies Workers Pee in Bottles.
By Lauren Kaori Gurley
"You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you?" Amazon tweeted. Drivers say they're being gaslit.
On Wednesday evening, Wisconsin representative Mark Pocan called out the tech behemoth for its well-documented labor abuses in a tweet: "Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a 'progressive workplace' when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles."
In response, @AmazonNews, the company's official news account countered, "You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us."
But the fact that Amazon delivery drivers pee in bottles and coffee cups in their vans is not invented. It has been well-documented, and is a huge talking point among many delivery drivers. It is one of the most universal concerns voiced by the many Amazon delivery drivers around the country that Motherboard has interviewed. Delivery workers, who drive Amazon emblazoned vans, often deliver up to 300 packages a day on a 10 hour shift. If they take too long, they can be written up and fired. So spending time locating and using a bathroom is not always an option.
"We’re pressured to get these routes done before night time and having to find a restroom would mean driving an extra 10 minutes off path to find one," an Amazon delivery driver told Motherboard. "Ten to fifteen minutes to find a bathroom can add up, meaning 20 to 30 minutes there and back all together." "Obviously we drink a lot of water throughout the day so this is happening a lot through the drive," they continued. "I can tell you that if I drove to find a restroom that I would be bringing back packages every night and that would eventually mean I would get infractions, which would lead to termination."
"[I usually do it] in a bottle...in the back of the van away from any packages and clean my hands with sanitizer because I understand how gross it is," they continued. "I just park off to the side and close the front sliding door."
It's also clear Amazon also knows that its drivers often have nowhere to pee, which is documented in internal policies. In February, the company released a new set of disciplinary guidelines that indicates that its delivery drivers will be terminated for "public urination, public defecation, and public indecency."
Not having bathroom access isn't unique to Amazon's delivery drivers, but a widespread problem across low-wage delivery jobs, particularly for workers in the gig economy who are independent contractors and don't have the benefits of traditional employment. Uber and Lyft drivers and DoorDash and UberEats couriers say they too pee in bottles, because restaurants and other businesses won't let them use their bathrooms.