Congressman Shrugs at Amazon's Apology for False Tweet About Workers Not Peeing in Bottles: ‘Sigh’

A U.S. congressman was unswayed by an Amazon apology for a false tweet last week about whether its gig workers feel forced to pee in bottles while on the job.

"Sigh," Rep. Mark Pocan, a lawmaker from Michigan, tweeted after the company said it was sorry for the incorrect tweet a week earlier. 

"This is not about me," Pocan wrote. "This is about your workers—who you don't treat with enough respect or dignity."

The social media spat started last week when Pocan, 56, tweeted at an Amazon executive who boasted about the company being a "progressive workplace."

"Paying workers $15/hr doesn't make you a 'progressive workplace' when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles," wrote Pocan, a Democrat first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. 

Pocan's back-and-forth with Amazon comes as the company has been criticized by labor advocates for working against a unionizing effort on behalf of nearly 6,000 warehouse employees in Alabama.

Democrats have rallied around the unionization effort, which is awaiting the results of a vote,

President Joe Biden told the workers in a video message last month "it's your right" to choose whether to join a union.

Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox previouly told PEOPLE the company did not believe its workers would be well served by the union and touted their pay and benefits.

"We don't believe the RWDSU [the union] represents the majority of our employees' views," Knox said in a statement.

After Pocan called out the company last week for the workplace conditions he described, Amazon's official Twitter account replied in an unconventionally candid manner.

"You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us," the company's Twitter account wrote back.

Amazon apologized for its brash response over the weekend, saying the tweet "was an own-goal, we're unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan."

The company admitted "the tweet was incorrect" and that drivers have reported having to take bathroom breaks in their vehicles while on the job.

Amazon maintained that it did not think the issue applied to workers in its fulfillment centers but "if any employee in a fulfillment center has a different experience, we encourage them to speak to their manager and we'll work to fix it."

The company said "we know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms," before pointing the blame at a "rural routes" and a lack of open public bathrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This "is a long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon," the company said. "We would like to solve" the issue though "we don't yet know how."

Pocan offered up one idea in his Twitter response: "Start by acknowledging the inadequate working conditions you've created for ALL your workers, then fix that for everyone & finally, let them unionize without interference."

A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on Monday.

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