Amazon has lengthy been at odds with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) over their criticisms of the corporate’s labor and enterprise practices. However the discord reached new heights final week when Amazon aggressively went after each senators on Twitter in an uncommon assault for a big company. With every new snarky tweet from an Amazon government or the corporate’s official Twitter account, insiders and observers alike requested a model of the identical query: “What the hell is happening?”
It seems that Amazon leaders had been following a broad mandate from the very high of the corporate: Battle again.
Recode has realized that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressed dissatisfaction in current weeks that firm officers weren’t extra aggressive in how they pushed again in opposition to criticisms of the corporate that he and different leaders deem inaccurate or deceptive. What adopted was a collection of snarky and aggressive tweets that ended up fueling their very own media cycles.
The timing was doubtless not coincidental. Bezos and different Amazon leaders are on edge as the corporate is dealing with the most important union election in its historical past at its Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse. Election outcomes might be tallied early this week, and Amazon officers perceive that if a majority of the staff vote to unionize, it may set off a sequence response at different services — doubtlessly forcing the e-commerce large to overtake the way it manages its a whole lot of 1000’s of front-line US staff.
There was terror inside the manager ranks of Amazon the final time a union election was held at a US Amazon facility — and that was solely a small subset of a warehouse’s workforce, the vast majority of whom voted in opposition to unionization. That vote occurred in early 2014 and consisted of simply 27 technicians and mechanics at an Amazon warehouse in Delaware. In Alabama, although, the stakes are a lot increased with practically 6,000 staff eligible to vote. Bezos is aware of all of this nicely.
So when information broke final week that Sanders was planning to go to Alabama within the last days of voting, high Amazon government Dave Clark fired off a Twitter thread that began with the next submit.
“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and respect his push for a progressive office,” Clark’s account posted on Wednesday. “I typically say we’re the Bernie Sanders of employers, however that’s not fairly proper as a result of we really ship a progressive office.”
1/3 I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and respect his push for a progressive office. I typically say we’re the Bernie Sanders of employers, however that’s not fairly proper as a result of we really ship a progressive office https://t.co/Fq8D6vyuh9— Dave Clark (@davehclark) March 24, 2021
Just a few hours later, the official “Amazon Information” media relations Twitter account, with greater than 170,000 followers, snapped again in opposition to Home Rep. Mark Pocan, who had questioned Clark’s “progressive office” assertion by alluding to tales of Amazon’s tempo of labor being so demanding that staff need to “urinate in water bottles.”
“You don’t actually imagine the peeing in bottles factor, do you?” the official Amazon Information account tweeted. “If that had been true, no one would work for us.”
1/2 You don’t actually imagine the peeing in bottles factor, do you? If that had been true, no one would work for us. The reality is that we now have over 1,000,000 unbelievable workers around the globe who’re happy with what they do, and have nice wages and well being care from day one.— Amazon Information (@amazonnews) March 25, 2021
And after a back-and-forth with Warren that started together with her criticizing the corporate’s tax funds, the identical Amazon account “quote-tweeted” Warren with this message:
That is extraordinary and revealing. Some of the highly effective politicians in the USA simply stated she’s going to interrupt up an American firm in order that they’ll’t criticize her anymore. https://t.co/Nt0wcZo17g— Amazon Information (@amazonnews) March 26, 2021
An Amazon spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for remark.
If Bezos wished the information cycle off of the union drive for a bit, it type of labored. However as an alternative of speaking in regards to the union, media shops and trade observers have been targeted on the rarity and judgment of a trillion-dollar firm sparring with highly effective lawmakers on Twitter. Amazon’s pushback on Pocan’s remark about staff peeing in bottles additionally ignited one other information cycle after the Intercept revealed inside Amazon communications acknowledging that contractors who ship Amazon packages generally defecate in luggage and urinate in bottles.
Amazon warehouse staff who’ve spoken to Recode through the years say it’s certainly uncommon to listen to of warehouse workers — versus a supply driver — urinating in bottles at work. However the greater level many make is that it’s not unusual for staff to take different measures, comparable to limiting how a lot they drink, to scale back their want to make use of the lavatory for worry of lacking their manufacturing quotas or getting written up by supervisors for an excessive amount of “time without work job,” as Amazon calls it.
Inside Amazon, rank-and-file workers had been additionally perplexed by the corporate’s Twitter strategy. “Suspicious exercise on @amazonnews Twitter account,” was the title of 1 inside help ticket — referred to as a bother ticket inside the corporate — filed by an Amazon safety engineer final week, in keeping with a screenshot considered by Recode.
“Over the previous two days, there have been two threads by @amazonnews in response to feedback made by US Authorities officers which have obtained appreciable consideration,” the ticket reads. “The tweets in query don’t match the standard content material posted by this account.”
The safety engineer famous that the tweets had been posted utilizing Twitter’s internet app relatively than Sprinklr, the social media administration software program sometimes utilized by the Amazon Information account to submit tweets.
The tweets, in keeping with the safety engineer, “are unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s model) and could also be a results of unauthorized entry.”
The help ticket was closed with out motion, in keeping with a supply.