Seattle, WA — After criticism from labor officials and the media, online retail giant Amazon.com began allowing its warehouse workers to wear adult diapers to relieve themselves between breaks. Prompted by employee threats to unionize several “fulfillment centers” if the company didn’t allow its associates to have toilet breaks, Amazon hopes this new program will satisfy its worker’s desire for “frequent bio breaks.”
“The key ingredient to Amazon’s success is our frontline workers,” said company spokesperson Bethany Millbright speaking on CNBC’s morning business program Daily Roughhousing. “Now our fulfillment associates can do their business while picking your Tide Pods and your Cottonelle toilet paper,” continued a chuckling Ms. Millbright observing her irony. “Customer obsession drives Amazon. Now associates have more to focus on excellence.”
During any given day, warehouse employees might cover as many as 17 miles of “picking” products for fulfillment. Many workers report grinding and unrealistic work conditions along with grueling marches back and forth across the fulfillment centers. However, according to Vice President of Amazon Custom Experience Darrel Slick, at least they’re getting some exercise.
“We did, early on, provide a gym, a masseuse, and an oxygen bar, but none of the associates wanted to use these services we provide while they were on the clock,” said Mr. Slick speaking with the New York Times in response to the diaper announcement. “We are under no obligation to provide these services, and it did not seem fiscally responsible to continue to provide the services for associates working under overtime pay.”
Go to the Toilet, Lose Your Job
Many of Amazon’s woes initially came from employee reports that supervisors were limiting restroom breaks for pregnant women. Even when bosses allowed additional breaks, employees who took advantage of them were disciplined for low productivity. Some were also fired. This has led to what labor psychologists called “work insecurity,” a condition that forces employees to do things that would typically be unhealthy or even dangerous.
“You ever see that spot over there where there’s all these robots and shit running into each other breaking cans of elephant mace,” questioned Douglas Theriault, a picker who’s been working in the Fernley, NV fulfillment center for the past four years. “Fucking robots ain’t gonna take our jobs. Excuse me. I gotta hit the men’s room. A gut thing.”
But sometimes, he knows he’s not getting his numbers for the day, so he often takes “breaks” wherever he can.
“I’ve pissed in tackle boxes, bro so that I don’t have to run 270 yards down to the bathroom and back. You do what you gotta do to keep this job.”
According to Ms. Millbright, Amazon is offering all of its fulfillment associates a 10% discount on all adult diaper products so they can “get used to it at home.”