Amazon is sending employees into the trenches on Twitter as it battles its first union vote and reports about workers peeing in bottles

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Amazon is sending employees into the trenches on Twitter as it battles its first union vote and reports about workers peeing in bottles
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • Amazon's paid army of employee Twitter users is at it again.
  • The employee accounts follow a standard format, and popped up previously amid negative press coverage.
  • A major union drive and reports of delivery drivers peeing in bottles are the primary target.

As new reports surface of Amazon warehouse and delivery staff still having to pee in bottles - or, in some cases, defecate in bags - the company's employee-powered Twitter army has resurfaced.

"Hey everyone!! This is Yola from Oak4," an account tied to an employee named Yola said last week. "I just joined a program where I am able to answer any questions, comments or concerns you may have about Amazon. I can't wait to share what my experience working here has been like for me."

The account, like several others reviewed by Insider, was started in March 2021. Rather than posting, the accounts focus on responding to people tweeting about the company.

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Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company.

The move was in response to the first revelations that some Amazon warehouse and delivery staff were peeing in bottles to save time due to the demands of their job. The employees paid by Amazon were easy to identify, as they all shared the same "Amazon FC" naming convention on their profiles (FC for "fulfillment center," the name of Amazon's shipping warehouses).

Several other Amazon FC ambassadors kept their main tweets to a minimum, choosing instead to reply to ongoing Twitter threads about working at the company. The majority of those responses are specifically regarding bathroom breaks, per the reports of employees peeing in bottles.

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Amazon is sending employees into the trenches on Twitter as it battles its first union vote and reports about workers peeing in bottles
An Amazon driver shared this photo with Insider of a bottle of pee inside a delivery van.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

"My [fulfillment center] lets me to take (2) 20min breaks and (1) 30min lunch. On overtime days, we get three 20min breaks, which is also pretty nice as well," one such response from an employee identified at Gary reads. "Before the pandemic, our breaks used to be only 15min. Being an essential worker is dignifying for me."

Another such response to a thread, from Yola, also addresses the repeated reports of employees peeing in bottles to save work time.

"Although the facility is big, there are numerous bathrooms to use," she wrote on March 28. "My building has 12. Each bathroom can have 3-6 toilets. That's plenty. Plus with 20-30 [minute] breaks that's more than enough time."

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Like Gary, Yola's account was also started in March 2021 and didn't become active until late in the month - just as Amazon began publicly pushing back on unionization at its Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center and reports of workers peeing in bottles resurfaced once again.

Another account with the FC tag who appears to work at Amazon, from a person named Darla, is tweeting similar sentiments; Amazon has refuted the user's affiliation with the company.

"So glad to be on Twitter! Feel free to ask my anything about my experiences as a member of the Amazon family, I'm an open book!" an account tied to an employee named Darla tweeted last week.

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"'Darla' is not an Amazon FC Ambassador," Amazon said in a statement to Insider. "It appears that this is a fake account that violates Twitter's terms. We've asked Twitter to investigate and take appropriate action."

A Twitter account run by the company, Amazon News, recently got into public arguments with several politicians. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mark Pocan, have all gotten into public spats with the account.

The tone of the account became combative enough that an Amazon engineer reportedly flagged the tweets as potentially suspicious behavior.

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And Amazon consumer chief Dave Clark also got involved in those public spats, even going after Sen. Sanders' record directly. "I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers," he said, "but that's not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace for our constituents: a $15 minimum wage, health care from day one, career progression, and a safe and inclusive work environment."

According to a report from Vox, Amazon cofounder and CEO Jeff Bezos specifically directed executives to push back harder on critics of the company.

Update: This post has been updated with a statement Amazon provided to Insider after publishing that said the account belonging to Darla is not affiliated with the company.

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