It shouldn’t come as news at this point, but nobody should take what corporations say at face value. They have accumulated so much political power through campaign contributions and leverage over the job market that they can usually claim whatever they want without any kind of political blowback. But sometimes they get truly smacked around.
Yesterday, the account that goes by “Amazon News Twitter” discovered a tweet by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WIC) in which he made the completely fair observation that paying a $15 an hour minimum wage doesn’t suddenly make Amazon a “progressive workplace” because the company still engages in union-busting and compels its workers to urinate in water bottles.
Amazon workers are known to urinate in bottles because they’re afraid of missing their assigned targets. If they’re found engaged in “idle time” they’re penalized and so a solution has cropped up among the company’s hard-working employees that helps them avoid getting docked pay for bathroom breaks: peeing in bottles.
Pocan was right to call attention to this trend by quote tweeting Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon’s “Worldwide Consumer” department, but Amazon disagreed. The company responded to Pocan’s tweet and asked if he really believed “the peeing in bottles thing,” a clear attempt to dismiss the reports as some half-baked meme. Amazon then claimed that it has “great wages and health care” and added that it hopes Pocan can “enact policies” to make other companies conduct themselves as Amazon supposedly does. Not only was the company disingenuous, it was patronizing.
Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a "progressive workplace" when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles. https://t.co/CnFTtTKA9q
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 25, 2021
2/2 We hope you can enact policies that get other employers to offer what we already do.
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
Pocan didn’t have to weather the pushback alone. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a reliably stalwart advocate for progressive policies, jumped into the fray by tagging the original post that Pocan was responding to and pointing out the irony of Amazon bragging about paying $15 an hour wages when the only reason they do so in the first place is that they were afraid of Senator Bernie Sanders’s (D-VT) “Stop Bezos Act” which would have forced Amazon to pay for the federal entitlement programs which its workers depend upon to survive.
Khanna ended with a zinger by saying he can’t tell which is more incompetent: the way Amazon treats its workers in Alabama or the way it handles its public relations. Judging by the way they handled this entire sage, the answer is both.
.@davehclark how ironic to now brag about paying $15 when we know Amazon did that in direct response to @BernieSanders and my Stop Bezos Act as Bezos himself suggested in a tweet. Not sure what’s more incompetent —your treatment of Alabama workers or your PR! https://t.co/PiRBT1b43o
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) March 25, 2021
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Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.