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The “peeing in bottles thing” is, in fact true, Amazon said Friday, as it issued a public apology for a tweet from its Amazon News account that suggested stories about its drivers urinating in bottles while working are bogus.

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” the company had said in that original, March 24 tweet, which was a response to a tweet from congressional Rep. Mark Pocan. Pocan’s tweet had said, “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”

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After being called out about its original tweet, Amazon recanted it late Friday, saying in a blog post that the tweet was “incorrect” and that it owed an apology to Pocan.

“We know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes,” the company said in the post, “and this has been especially the case during Covid when many public restrooms have been closed.”

The apology could signal that the company is having second thoughts about a spate of unusually aggressive tweets it fired off last month. Amazon made headlines in March with snarky tweets directed at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. After Vermont’s Sanders said he’d travel to Alabama in the final days of a union vote at an Amazon warehouse there, the company’s chief of consumer operations fired back on Twitter.

Read more: Amazon on edge: What’s behind its snark-tweeting of Sanders and Warren

“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace,” Amazon exec Dave Clark tweeted on March 24. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”

The testy tweets appeared as lawmakers in the US and elsewhere are investigating Amazon and other Big Tech firms over what critics have charged are anticompetitive practices. The companies face potential regulation that could force them to break up their businesses or otherwise weaken their power. Amazon is also facing the prospect of a unionized workforce amid accusations that it mistreats its workers. And critics have said Amazon doesn’t pay enough taxes despite the fact that its founder, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest people in the world.

Related: Amazon’s union vote: What the election at an Alabama warehouse could mean

In its apology Friday, Amazon said the bathroom-break problem affects drivers for other delivery services too, as well as drivers for ride-hailing companies. “Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it. We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions,” Amazon said in its post.

The company has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and others this year over AI-equipped cameras installed in Amazon vans to monitor drivers and confirm their identities. A company program for disciplining delivery drivers, which surfaced around the time Amazon’s plans for the cameras emerged, reportedly mentioned “public urination” among actionable offenses. Some drivers have said they worry the camera program will increase pressure on them to work even faster and lead to punishment for behaviors that are hard to avoid under intense time constraints. Amazon has said the cameras are meant solely as a safety measure, with tests showing significant decreases in things like accidents and distracted driving.

More info: Amazon drivers must consent to biometric monitoring or lose jobs, reports say

In its apology post Friday, Amazon also said the original tweet “wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers.” In 2018, an author went undercover at an Amazon fulfillment center in Britain and alleged that workers there urinated in bottles for fear that regular bathroom breaks might cost them their job. Amazon disputed that claim. In its Friday post, the company said fulfillment center workers can take bathroom breaks whenever they need to. 

“A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of restrooms, and employees are able to step away from their work station at any time,” the company said in the post. “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.”

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Walmart gives workers off on Thanksgiving.

Walmart workers won’t have to work this Thanksgiving..


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Black Friday deals aren’t limited to just the Friday after Thanksgiving. Retailers start their sales on Thanksgiving, but this year, it’ll be different at Walmart

The retail giant said Friday it’s giving workers the day off on Thanksgiving due to their work during the pandemic. It joins Target, which said in January it wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving

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“Closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day is an additional way the retailer is thanking associates for their dedication to serving customers and their perseverance throughout the pandemic,” the company said in a press release Friday. 

Walmart also closed its stores on Thanksgiving last year due to the pandemic. 

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Apple reports improved behavior in its supplier chain.


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Apple reported improvements in its manufacturing partners’ operational conduct in 2020 while grappling with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple’s annual supply-chain responsibility report for 2021 focuses on a range of topics, including labor and human rights, worker health and safety, and the environment, among other things.  

Apple reported a reduction in major violations of its Code of Conduct among its suppliers and didn’t mention discovering any cases of child labor. It also found no instances of forced labor. Most of the violations Apple reported related to violations of the company’s working-hours policy or labor data falsification.

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During the year, Apple conducted 1,121 supplier assessments in 53 countries to ensure compliance with the company’s Code of Conduct. The company also said it conducted 57,618 interviews with supply chain workers to ensure those workers participating in the assessment process weren’t retaliated against.

While Apple’s 113-page report (PDF) didn’t mention uncovering child labor being employed in suppliers’ facilities, the company did find that one facility had “misclassified the student workers in their program and falsified paperwork to disguise violations of our Code, including allowing students to work nights and/or overtime, and in some cases, to perform work unrelated to their major.” Apple said it placed the supplier on probation and stopped doing business with the facility until the issue was corrected.

The report didn’t identify the supplier that was suspended, but in November, Apple reportedly froze any new business contracts with Pegatron, one of its key suppliers, after the Taiwanese company was found to be breaking the company’s supply chain rules by falsifying paperwork and misclassifying workers in order to cover up labor violations.

Apple found a major reduction in violations of its code of conduct in 2020, reporting nine during the year compared with 17 the year earlier and 48 in 2017. Seven of the nine cases in 2020 related to working hours or labor data falsification. Overall, the company reported 93% compliance with its working-hours rules, which require suppliers to restrict work weeks to 60 hours.

Apple also said it rejected 8% of prospective suppliers for code-related risks.

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Boeing

The Boeing Company reached an agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday that requires it to pay at least $17 million in penalties, after the Chicago-based manufacturer installed equipment with unapproved sensors in hundreds of 737 Max and NG aircraft.

“Keeping the flying public safe is our primary responsibility,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “That is not negotiable, and the FAA will hold Boeing and the aviation industry accountable to keep our skies safe.”

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The settlement comes as the FAA seeks to step up its scrutiny of airline production and safety. In February, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office said the FAA needed to strengthen its aircraft review process and issued a 55-page report detailing how the agency had misunderstood the 737 Max’s MCAS flight control system. Though not related to today’s settlement, that system was ultimately blamed for two crashes that, combined, killed 346 people.

In addition to the penalties, Boeing has agreed to take a number of corrective actions, including measures meant to ensure future compliance with FAA regulations and to reduce the chance that Boeing again submits aircraft with nonconforming parts for airworthiness certification. If Boeing fails to comply within 30 days, the FAA will direct the company to pay up to $10.1 million in additional penalties.

“We take our responsibility to meet all regulatory requirements very seriously,” a Boeing spokesperson told CNET. “These penalties stem from issues that were raised in 2019 and which we fully resolved in our production system and supply chain. We continue to devote time and resources to improving safety and quality performance across our operations. This includes ensuring that our teammates understand all requirements and comply with them in every way.”

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