Drivers report being underpaid and having to urinate in bottles in their vehicles to keep up with delivery rates

By Michael Sainato

James Meyers worked as a driver for several Amazon delivery service providers in Austin, Texas, for about one year until he quit in October 2020 citing the immense workloads and poor working conditions.

Fourteen-hour shifts were common because delivery service providers wouldn’t allow drivers to return any packages from their routes and the pressure to meet delivery rates meant Meyers used a plastic bottle to go to the bathroom on a daily basis.

“I saw no effort on Amazon’s part to push delivery service providers to allow their drivers to use the restroom on a normal human basis, leading many, myself included, to urinate inside bottles for fear of slowing down our delivery rates,” Meyers said.

Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Amazon uses contractors for delivery services, a move Meyers said makes it exceedingly difficult for workers to organize, and he said, contributes to drivers being overworked and underpaid by the delivery service providers who are paid bonuses on metrics such as route completion percentages.

Amazon has been publicly opposed to unionization and organizing among their employees, most recently through an anti-union campaign launched ahead of a union election vote at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, which has included anti-union captive audience meetings and sending mass texts and ads to workers encouraging them to vote against the union.

Derrick Flournoy worked as a driver for an Amazon Delivery Service Provider in Downers Grove, Illinois, for more than one year before he quit after experiencing retaliation from management for organizing an online chat for workers to discuss grievances on the job such as the lack of pay increases.

Flournoy made $16 an hour, which remained unchanged from when he started in December 2019 to when he left in February 2021, even as a 40-hour full-time work week wasn’t guaranteed.

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have gone back and forth every week about who is the wealthiest person in the world and I can’t even pay my rent

Derrick Flournoy

An Amazon spokesperson claimed drivers have built-in time through their routes for breaks and provide a list of nearby restrooms in the delivery app. They did not comment on the unfair labor practice charge or on organizing efforts by drivers.

“We’re proud to empower more than 2,000 delivery service partners around the country – small businesses that create thousands more jobs and offer a great work environment with pay of at least $15/hour, healthcare benefits, and paid time off,” the spokesperson said in an email.

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