Workers who shop to fill and deliver orders for online grocery service Instacart plan a nationwide strike for Monday over inadequate safety measures and hazard pay during the coronavirus crisis.
More than 150,000 Instacart drivers and shoppers plan to walk off the job Monday until the company meets certain demands including an extra $5 per order in hazard pay, expanded pay for workers impacted by COVID-19, and the provision of safety supplies including disinfectant wipes.
“Instacart has refused to act proactively in the interests of its Shoppers, customers, and public health, so we are forced to take matters into our own hands,” wrote Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective in a post on Medium Friday. “We will not continue to work under these conditions.”
The workers planned strike was first reported by Vice.
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Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus have transformed industries, with workers for many non-essential businesses staying at home, as well as layoffs and furloughs. While other companies including Amazon, CVS and Instacart, which have scores of workers already delivering groceries, drugs and other products, are adding to their payrolls.
Earlier this week, Instacart said it planned to add 300,000 workers over the next three months to meet burgeoning demand for grocery deliveries and pickups, as millions are urged to stay home to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Instacart lets users remotely shop supermarkets including Costco, Safeway, Whole Foods and others, and have orders delivered to their homes or prepared for pickup at stores.
At the same time, Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said all in-store shoppers would have sick pay and that any full-service or in-store shopper diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined would get up to 14 days of extended pay.
Instacart had also been working to provide cleaning products, health and safety supplies for its shoppers across North America, he said. Instacart did not immediately respond to request for comment from USA TODAY.
But the worker groups say Instacart has been “profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits.”
“They are putting us directly in harm’s way while profiting greatly,” the workers write. “we cannot let this be considered normal.”
The 14 days of extended pay, they write, “not only falls short, but isn’t even being honored.” And the policy is set to expire April 8, “likely before any Shopper will even qualify for this payment,” they wrote.
The workers demands include:
- Safety precautions at no cost to workers: PPE (at minimum hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes/sprays and soap).
- Hazard pay: an extra $5 per order and defaulting the in-app tip amount to at least 10% of the order total.
- Expanded pay for workers impacted by COVID-19: qualification for anyone with a doctor’s note for either a pre-existing condition that’s a known risk factor or requiring a self-quarantine.
- Extended deadline for benefits beyond April 8.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.