Why Instacart Shoppers are Striking?

We knew grocery delivery was the future, we just didn’t expect it would be our immediate future.

Founded in 2012, Instacart is an American technology company valued at nearly $8 billion that operates as a same-day grocery delivery and pick up service in the U.S. and Canada.

A group of Instacart shoppers are planning a nationwide strike on Monday March 30th, 2020 to protest the grocery delivery app’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. This according to a Medium post Friday (March 27) by worker representatives. Who are Instacart shoppers? They are the workers who shop for and then deliver groceries to customers.

In a time of safety during the coronavirus outbreak, Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective have been urging Instacart to take proper safety precautions. Unfortunately it appears they have been ignored. Ethics in business must ensure the safety of workers and the likes of Amazon and Instacart are defintiely potential offenders during this sensitive period.

While retail sales lag, grocery delivery is surging. How big a deal has grocery delivery become? Well Instacart is trying to onboard an additional 300,000 workers over the next three months to meet surging demand. But will the environment be safe for them?

While Instacart has turned this pandemic into a PR campaign, portraying itself as the hero of families that are sheltered-in-place, isolated, or quarantined. Instacart has still not provided essential protections to Shoppers on the front line that could prevent them from becoming carriers, falling ill themselves, or worse. While Walmart, Instacart, Amazon and others are bragging about hiring more workers, they need to provide adequately safe environments.

Grocery delivery is the future and the present, but the leaders need to pay extra and provide safety first protocols. Grocery shoppers and cashiers are on the front lines of this coronavirus situation, with increased chances of potential exposure to the virus.

So what are the workers hoping for? Instacart has also rolled out contactless delivery, but in-store shoppers are pushing for more — including personal protective equipment like disinfectant wipes, hazard pay of $5 per order, and an extended sick pay policy that shields those with preexisting conditions. Not exactly too much to ask.

Instacart knows it’s virtually impossible to meet their qualifications and is ignoring Shoppers’ pleas for more substantial and preventative help.

If we look at the history of how gig workers are treated it’s a minefield. According to the Instacart shoppers themselves, Instacart has a well established history of exploiting its Shoppers, one that extends years back, before our current crisis.

Instacart has now said it would offer a $25 to $200 bonus for workers dependent on the hours worked between March 15 and April 15. Shoppers can also expect broader access to hand sanitizer and other supplies in the coming weeks. Coming weeks? The pandemic is now in the United States and Canada.

Instacart’s response to our demands lacks substance, &does nothing to protect us. Conceding to one demand is way too little, way too late. They can kick rocks. Our call for an emergency walk off still stands.

“Shopper Health & Safety Update” by @Instacarthttps://t.co/5ekc0OsmNm

— Vanessa Bain #GeneralStrike (@hashtagmolotov) March 27, 2020

Instacart is being accused of profiting astronomically off of their shoppers literally risking their lives, all while refusing to provide them with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits. It’s the worst of the gig economy during a financial crisis of a virus that is out of control.

Gig economy exploitation in the grocery delivery sector appears to be hitting new lows. Workers have called for national boycotts in the past, but failed to gain much traction for issues like forcing the company to reinstate the 10% default tip that was reduced in 2016.

Vanessa Bain, one of the strike’s leaders, told Business Insider that Shoppers have been organizing for 4 years. In that time, Instacart has “never so much as met with us once,” Bain said.

On Monday, March 30, Shoppers will walk off of their jobs, and will not return to work until their demands are met.

“We demand that Instacart meet the following conditions:

  1. Safety precautions at no cost to workers — PPE (at minimum hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes/sprays and soap).
  2. Hazard pay — an extra $5 per order and defaulting the in-app tip amount to at least 10% of the order total.
  3. An extension and expansion of pay for workers impacted by COVID-19 — anyone who has a doctor’s note for either a preexisting condition that’s a known risk factor or requiring a self-quarantine.
  4. The deadline to qualify for these benefits must be extended beyond April 8th.”

As a caring public, we have to advocate strongly for worker safety for those of us on the front lines, no matter if you are a health professional, essential service worker and especially if you are in food services. These supply chains are a matter of our survival and those people deserve our support.

Our hearts go out to the Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective and all related workers impacted by the extraordinary measures of this crisis.

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