Commentary

Instacart Personal Shoppers Still Planning Nationwide Strike Today

With its personal shoppers threatening a nationwide walkout on Monday over safety issues, Instacart said last night said it would distribute its own hand sanitizer to employees and was also “launching a new customer tip default feature to help shoppers earn higher tips.” It earlier made “Leave at My Door Delivery” the default setting on orders across North America in response to its increasing -- and increasingly vocal -- work force. 

“Instacart is one of several companies delivering essentials to households and now expanding rapidly at a time when much of the American economy is at risk of contracting. Last week, the company announced plans to bring on another 300,000 ‘full service shoppers’ in North America over the next three months to service demand,” CNN Business’ Sara Ashley O’Brien writes  for MSN News.

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“But while the company has seen a surge in customer orders in recent weeks … workers have criticized the company for not doing enough for them,” O’Brien adds. The strike … has a list of demands including providing workers with safety items including hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sprays, hazard pay, and an expansion of its coronavirus pay to include those with underlying health conditions. The workers specified in a Medium post that they wanted an extra $5 per order and a default tip of at least 10% of the order total,” O’Brien continues.

“Organizers of the strike say their requests for greater safety precautions have been ignored for several weeks amid surging demand for grocery delivery as people try not to leave their homes,” Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz writes for the Chicago Tribune

“‘They are profiting astronomically off of us literally risking our lives, all while refusing to provide us with effective protection, meaningful pay, and meaningful benefits,' said a Medium post Friday that was signed by ‘Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers Collective,’” Elejalde-Ruiz adds.

Instacart also used Medium, in an unsigned post, to lay out its actions yesterday.

“We’ve been evaluating the COVID-19 crisis minute-by-minute to provide real-time support for Instacart shoppers and customers throughout North America. We’ve been taking proactive steps during this critical time to support all shoppers as you continue to serve as household heroes for families,” it stated.

The Gig Workers Collective was not impressed. In a response, again on Medium, it declared: “Instacart’s ‘Response’ is a Sick Joke — The Strike Is Still On.”

Workers at an Amazon 855,000 square-foot fulfillment center on Staten Island, New York, meanwhile, also planned to go on strike today after a colleague there was diagnosed with coronavirus. They want Amazon to scrub down the facility.

“We are not safe, and we are carriers of the second wave of this virus, guaranteed,” Christian Smalls, an assistant manager at the warehouse, tells  the New York Daily News’ John Annese. “We’re not going back. Nobody’s going back until they close that damned building down and sanitize it,” Smalls said, adding that he knows of at least two other workers who have tested positive and suspects there are more.

“An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Sunday evening that the company's top priority is the health and safety of its employees. The spokesperson said that Amazon ‘recently implemented daily temperature screenings in our operations sites as an additional preventative measure to support the health and safety of our customers and employees,’” Brian Fung reports  for CNN Business.

“‘We believe direct communication is the best avenue to discuss feedback, and our teams onsite are speaking directly with employees each day to hear their questions and discuss options that are available in this ever changing environment,’ the spokesperson said,” Fung adds.

The demand for workers who move goods continues to increase exponentially.

“The coronavirus pandemic is forcing the fastest reallocation of labor since World War II, with companies and governments mobilizing an army of idled workers into new activities that are urgently needed. Around the world, former hotel, restaurant and airline staff are moving to grocers, online retailers and hospitals as parts of the economy are shuttered to prevent the spread of the disease -- and essential goods and services are strained,” Ruth Bender and Matthew Dalton & amp; amp; lt; span>report for The Wall Street Journal.

“Economists don’t expect the sector hiring booms to offset the millions of job losses forecast in the months to come. Many of the job shifts will prove temporary. Still, for some, it is forcing a re-evaluation of the notion of a safe, future-proof job by revealing which sectors are genuinely essential,” they add.

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