The Instacart shopper strike organized by the Gig Workers Collective on March 30 had “absolutely no impact to Instacart’s operations,” said Instacart officials, reporting 40% more shoppers on the platform the day of the strike vs. the same day and time the previous week.
“Over the last 72 hours, more groceries were sold on our platform than ever before,” said Instacart the day after some workers, which Instacart calls shoppers, walked off the job nationwide. “In the last week alone, 250,000 new people signed up to become Instacart full-service shoppers and 50,000 of them have already started shopping on the platform.”
Instacart delivery workers, who are independent contractors or gig workers, have cited inadequate on-the-job safety measures and compensation amid the coronavirus pandemic as reasons for the walk out.
“Shoppers are not paid an hourly wage. We’re paid a flat rate. Tips are very important,” Heidi Carrico, a 55-year-old Instacart shopper in Portland, Ore., told Slate. A founding member of the Gig Workers Collective, Carrico and others are asking that Instacart raise its shopper compensation to $13 per shop and provide adequate health and safety supplies.
“We shouldn’t have to rely on tips in order to make it worth it. We should be paid fairly with tips on top of that, but we’re not, and that’s the reality,” she said in the Slate interview. “They [also] need to get gloves and hand sanitizer out there. We can’t find it for all the money in the world. … That’s the bare minimum they should have done from the very beginning on this.”
“We respect the rights of shoppers to provide us feedback and voice their concerns,” said San Francisco-based Instacart. “We’re always committed to ensuring shoppers are fairly compensated for their efforts. Based on the rise in customer demand, shopper earnings have increased by more than 40% month over month and shoppers, on average, have also seen a 30% increase in customer tips.”
With regard to protecting the health and safety of its workers, Instacart points to recently implemented new product features, health guidelines, sick leave policies and safety supplies—including the manufacturing and distribution of its own hand sanitizer—as evidence of its commitment to safeguard its shoppers in the wake of COVID-19.