Members of the non-profit group, Gig Workers Collective, have planned a nationwide strike for improved protection during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lauren Wicks
March 30, 2020
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Instacart

Today, some gig workers (think: shoppers and delivery drivers) across the country are going on strike for more protective measures and better pay as they work the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. A non-profit group, Gig Workers Collective, asked Instacart to provide workers with more sick leave, hazard pay and protective gear, among other requests to be honored during the pandemic.

"This is an extraordinary time in history, and as shoppers, those of us who are able—and have the means to protect ourselves—do want to help those in our community by delivering groceries and supplies," a spokesperson for Gig Workers Collective writes. "But with Instacart neglecting the basic wellbeing of its 150,000+ drivers, we believe there is no choice but to not only walk off, but to raise awareness to the company's practices. They are putting us directly in harm's way while profiting greatly. We cannot let this be considered normal."

Instacart announced over the weekend it would be providing workers with new hand sanitizer upon request and updates to its tip system (the app currently suggests a 5% tip per delivery), but did not address paid sick leave. This comes on the heels of another announcement the company made last week to more than double its independent contractors for the next three months to meet the high demands during the pandemic. The company reports nearly 50,000 new shoppers have joined the platform in the last week, but some customers are still having to wait days to receive their order.

Politicians, activists and other prominent figures have been speaking out in favor of the independent workers looking for better pay and protection during this crisis. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) tweeted over the weekend, saying, "@Instacart was last valued at nearly $8 billion. A company of this size should not be forcing its workers to put themselves—and us all—at risk. I stand with the workers, and encourage Instacart to meet their demands."

While some workers are going on strike for a day, others say they can't afford to take a day off. Summer Cooper told AP News she joined Instacart after losing her restaurant job in Tampa, Florida, saying she was "grateful to have some way to make money."

Others, like Shanna Foster, stopped contracting with Instacart two weeks ago, as she is a single mother and afraid of getting the coronavirus. She says even though Instacart has added more promotions—extra pay for full-service shoppers to accept certain orders—it's not enough to get her back in grocery stores.

"They need to give us hazard pay right now and it should be guaranteed," she told AP News.

How You Can Support Instacart Shoppers (and Other Gig Workers)

The Gig Workers Collective is also made of independent contractors from Uber and Lyft, takeout delivery services and Amazon Flex. You can support them by offering generous tips electronically and letting them leave goods at the door instead of interacting with you.

Additionally, you can reach Instacart directly at 1-888-246-7822 to let them know you stand with its independent contractors. You can also email them at help@instacart.com or tag them in a post on social media that highlights your concern for Instacart shoppers' health and well-being during this pandemic.