Amazon is hitting back at attacks on the company’s labor and business practices from critics like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — at the behest of none other than Jeff Bezos.
The CEO expressed anger in recent weeks that Amazon officials weren’t more aggressive in pushing back against flak that the company that he and other top brass deem inaccurate or misleading, according to Recode.
Bezos — who as the world’s richest man with a fortune near $200 billion has long been a target of Sens. Sanders and Warren — has recently directed the firm to fight back. Last week the e-commerce giant went after both senators on Twitter in a snarky attack that’s unusual for a big, buttoned-up corporation.
Central to the dustup is the largest union election in Amazon’s history at its Bessemer, Ala. warehouse. Election results will be tallied later this week, although results may not be known for weeks or months as both sides are expected to squabble over the legitimacy of ballots that are mailed in.
Amazon officials are on edge because if a majority of the workers vote to unionize, it could ignite a chain reaction at other facilities, with the potential to force the e-commerce giant to overhaul how it manages its hundreds of thousands of front-line US workers.
When news broke last week that Sanders was planning to visit Alabama in the final days of voting, top Amazon executive Dave Clark fired off a Twitter thread on Wednesday that started with a strikingly snarky post:
“I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” Clark tweeted.
A few hours later, the official Amazon News media relations Twitter account, with more than 170,000 followers, hit back against Rep. Mark Pocan, who had questioned Clark’s “progressive workplace” assertion by alluding to stories of Amazon’s pace of work being so demanding that workers have to “urinate in water bottles.”
Amazon News tweeted in response: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”
The abrupt shift in tone of the company’s Twitter account was so abrupt that it sparked an internal query from the Amazon security team, Recode reported.
“The tweets, according to the security engineer, ‘are unnecessarily antagonistic (risking Amazon’s brand) and may be a result of unauthorized access’,” according to the tech news site.
Users on Twitter responded with news accounts of Amazon workers complaining about inhumane working conditions, with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also weighing in.
The House freshman tweeted a screenshot of an email in which an Amazon manager complained about “bottles of urine” left inside delivery vans.
Soon after, a back-and-forth with Warren ensued after the Democrat criticized the company’s tax payments.
The same Amazon account “quote-tweeted” Warren with this message: “This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she’s going to break up an American company so that they can’t criticize her anymore.”
Amazon did not respond to requests seeking comment.