Instacart is describing its workers as "household heroes" during the coronavirus epidemic, and it’s not wrong. The work Instacart shoppers and delivery people do helps people across the country stay home and safe(r). But while Instacart is happy to bestow the label “hero” on its workers, giving them hazard pay, adequate sick leave, and protective equipment is another matter.
Instacart shoppers are planning a strike starting Monday until the company fulfills their demands for $5-an-order hazard pay; free protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, wipes, and soap; and expanded paid sick leave, Vice reports.
Strike organizers say to go ahead and order Instacart so the company feels the effects of the strike—just don’t expect your order to necessarily arrive in a timely fashion!
“Instacart’s corporate employees are provided with health insurance, life insurance, and paid time off and [are] also eligible for sick pay and paid family leave. By contrast its [gig workers], who are putting their lives on the line to maintain daily operations are afforded none of these protections. Without [us], Instacart will grind to a halt. We deserve and demand better,” Vanessa Bain, an Instacart worker and strike organizer, told Vice.
A key issue with Instacart’s current sick leave policy is that when it comes to independently contracted delivery drivers, it only applies to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been ordered to quarantine by a doctor. Even if you set aside the lack of available tests, this policy screws over workers who need to self-quarantine because of preexisting conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Instacart is trying to hire 300,000 more workers, but it should start with fair treatment for the ones it already has. It also seems like Instacart customers would be interested to know that the shoppers who select their food aren’t being provided with hand sanitizer and other safety necessities.
Consider this a picket line situation—as in, don’t cross. As painful as it may be to wave goodbye to things you ordered, cancel your order and let the company know why you’re doing so.