Amazon’s productivity quotas are so strict and its rules, so punitive, that some drivers delivering up to 400 packages a day have to pee in bottles to avoid losing the time it takes to stop and use the bathroom.
Yet, in a recent public relations campaign, the company denied that many of its workers pee in bottles in their vans to try and keep up with productivity requirements, and can be fired for it, Vice reported.
“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” the company’s official Amazon News Twitter account posted amid a union election at an Alabama Amazon warehouse.
The company has been sued numerous times for failing to provide mandated breaks, overtime and minimum-wage pay in the interest of higher productivity. Amazon delivery drivers in Seattle won an $8.2 million settlement for not getting breaks. In California, drivers won $6.4 million in settlement fees for related wage theft violations.
Emails, texts, calls from current and former Amazon delivery drivers proved that “the peeing in bottles thing” happens, Amazon knows it and will fire drivers who are caught peeing in public, Vice reported.
Six women who drove for Amazon during the past year told Vice that some fast during work hours, avoiding drinking water during the summer, to avoid wasting time finding a bathroom. Others hold their pee for up to 10 hours, squat over trash bags, or buy “she-wees,” female urinals.
“I am a trainer for my [delivery company] and I tell all the new girls to invest in a she wee or you will not make it at this job,” an Amazon delivery driver trainer who works out of an Amazon warehouse told Vice. Drivers often dump bags or bottles with pee and poop on the side of the road, the driver added.
A pregnant Amazon delivery driver said, “I’ve held my pee so much. Sometimes I had to wait so long I felt ill.”
A delivery driver who quit on March 12, told The Intercept that peeing in a bottle “happens because we are literally implicitly forced to do so, otherwise we will end up losing our jobs for too many ‘undelivered packages.’”
An email she received from her manager in August included a section titled “Urine bottle,” stating: “In the morning, you must check your van thoroughly for garbage and urine bottle. If you find urine bottle (s) please report to your lead, supporting staff or me. Vans will be inspected by Amazon during debrief, if urine bottle (s) are found, you will be issue an infraction tier 1 for immediate offboarding.”
Amazon drivers say they have been fired for peeing in bottles and suburban neighborhoods. Some Amazon delivery companies fire workers for leaving pee bottles in their vans.
Jaime Palma is a case manager at the Palma Law group, which represents Amazon delivery drivers in wage theft cases. “If they don’t meet their quotas, they get suspended or fired for it, so they can’t use the bathroom,” Palma told Vice.
Amazon’s productivity quotas can be as high as 400 packages and 200 stops on a 10 hour shift. Many drivers say they work through 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks and paid 15 minute breaks, often mandated by state law. Some Amazon delivery companies promise job applicants that they’ll have time to use the bathroom but drivers say this is a false promise, Vice reported.
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