Are Amazon drivers under so much pressure that they have to piss in jugs so they can deliver on time? That seems to be the case with at least some Amazon drivers, a reminder that Jeff Bezos is more like Jeff Bozos when it comes to how he treats the employees that have made him a zillionaire.
This pissing match got started after a Twitter exchange between Amazon executive Dave Clark and United States Representative Mark Pocan. Dave Clark boasted of Amazon’s progressive work policies but Pocan didn’t seem to agree:
So what are piss jugs and what role do they play at Amazon? Let’s hear Sunnyvale Trailer Park resident Bubbles describe the purpose of the piss jug:
The good folks at Urban Dictionary define the piss jug as:
A Piss Jug refers to a receptacle of varying size, optimally made of a water-proof substance, into which urine may be expelled directly from the penis. Piss Jugs are generally used in situations where a conventional toilet is unavailable.
The piss jug is yet another example of human innovation that harkens back to the saying “I don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.” Anyone who has driven on a long injury knows that sometimes you don’t have time or anywhere to relieve yourself and unless you’re wearing a diaper, you use whatever is at hand, whether it be a half-gallon milk container or something similar. People who drive professionally (such as over-the-road truck drivers) will tell you that piss jugs are real, especially when your pay can be based on your ability to get somewhere fast.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that if Amazon is going to pat itself on the back for having a wonderful workplace environment (be it in the Amazon warehouses or for their drivers), the piss jug is anything but progressive.
Initially Amazon denied the stories as seen in this pissed-off tweet:
While tweets are not evidence that a problem exists, a number of people confirmed they’ve been forced to use the dreaded piss jugs: Here’s just one response to Pocan’s piss proclamation:
Turns out more than a few Amazon drivers are urinating in everything ranging from water bottles to coffee cups. According to a March 25, 2021 report from Vice.com:
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.
Amazon eventually changed its tune. According to MSN News:
“We owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” Amazon said in a statement late Friday.
“The tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers,” each of which, it said, had dozens of restrooms that employees could use “at any time.”
Amazon continued: “We know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes, and this has been especially the case during Covid when many public restrooms have been closed.”
It described the problem as “a long-standing, industry-wide issue,” adding, “we would like to solve it.”
Amazon seems to be scrambling to save face for two reasons. The first is that a report from The Intercept suggesting Amazon officials are aware of the piss jug phenomenon. The second is that Amazon workers in Alabama are attempting to unionize. This is not the first time Amazon has been accused of working their employees like dogs. However, will employees stand up for their rights and how will this affect Amazon’s work policies?