Instacart Tries to Head Off Walkout by Worried Workers

Group dismisses grocery delivery service's promise to provide hand sanitizer on request
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 29, 2020 7:33 PM CDT
Instacart Faces Walkout as Workers Want Protective Gear
Bagged purchases from a Kroger store in Mississippi fill a cart.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

A possible strike by Instacart workers highlights the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the grocery delivery business, with workers worrying about their safety as they try to meet a surge in demand for online groceries. A group called the Gig Workers Collective is calling for a nationwide walkout Monday, the AP reports. The group has been asking Instacart to provide workers with hazard pay and protective gear, among other things. Instacart said Sunday it would soon provide workers with a new hand sanitizer upon request and outlined changes to its tip system. The group said the measures were too little, too late. While some workers say they intend to join the strike for at least a day—or have stopped filling orders already for fear of getting the virus—other, newer workers are content to have a paying job at a time of mass layoffs in other industries.

The San Francisco-based delivery app is trying to hire 300,000 workers—more than doubling its workforce—to fill orders it says have surged by 150% year-over year in the past few weeks. Instacart now has more than 200,000 contracted workers who make multiple trips a day to stores to fulfill and deliver orders that customers place through the app. It also directly employs about 20,000 part-time workers, each assigned to a single store, collecting groceries that are then delivered to clients by a contracted Instacart worker. Chloe Grozdina, a part-time Instacart in-store shopper in the Chicago area, makes $13 an hour and doesn't get tips. She said the crowds of fellow Instacart shoppers make it tough to keep a safe distance while racing to fill orders. She wears a mask to work that she bought herself, Grozdina said, and immediately showers when she gets home.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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