- Amazon's paid army of employee Twitter users is at it again, this time criticizing unionization.
- 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.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
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.
"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. The account, like several others reviewed by Insider, was started in March 2021.
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).
After Darla's cheerful intro written in late March, the second tweet on the account reflects the grim reality of being an Amazon FC ambassador. "One thing that's become obvious to me in my short time on Twitter is how willing people are to shout down and be cruel to a fellow member of the working class who disagrees with them, even when they think that person is 'brainwashed.' The cruelty I've had directed at me!!!" she tweeted.
-Darla at GYR1 📦 (@AmazonFCDarla) March 29, 2021
Darla's only other tweets reflect her anti-union position - a tweet that was published the same day that employees of an Amazon fulfillment center were scheduled to vote on the company's first major union.
"What bothers me most about unions is there's no ability to opt out of dues!" she said on Monday. "As a single mother with two boys I'm barely scraping by as it is, and now unions want to come to Amazon and make pay them a piece of my salary. No thanks!"
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.
"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 an employee named 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' plenty. Plus with 20-30 [minute] breaks that's more than enough time."
Like Gary and Darla, 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.
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.
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. Amazon representatives did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing.
Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.