“Shoppers Have Had Enough”: Instacart Workers Plan a Strike

They’re calling attention to lack of benefits during coronavirus.

On Monday, workers for the grocery delivery service Instacart are planning to strike as part of an effort for better workplace protections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The nationwide walkout is one of a handful of similar actions across the country that call attention to the few protections that exist for frontline workers putting themselves at risk. “Shoppers have had enough,” says the Gig Workers Collective in a statement announcing the strike.

“Instacart has still not provided essential protections to Shoppers on the front lines that could prevent them from becoming carriers, falling ill themselves, or worse,” the announcement says.

Instacart has said it’s hiring 300,000 new shoppers to meet the surge in demand as many Americans shelter in their homes. It has also introduced some safety measures, including paid sick leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19. But workers want more protections: hazard pay, protective equipment, and expanded sick leave.

The news was first reported by Vice. The strike is being led by Vanessa Bain, a worker in California who has been at the heart of efforts to reform Instacart—and the gig economy broadly.

An Instacart strike isn’t anything new. Back in October, I wrote about a strike Bain was organizing to fight against cut wages, unclear algorithmic pay models, and potential retaliation for their advocacy. 

The coronavirus is only making those problems more glaring. Organizers like Bain have tried to use the increased visibility of workers to push change on long held concerns. But gig companies, as I reported earlier today, are doubling-down on their current employment models as their services become essential.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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